Six more women have alleged sexual assault and inappropriate behavior on the part of NFL star Deshaun Watson, bring the number of lawsuits filed against the quarterback to 13.
One of the lawsuits filed on Monday claims the Houston Texans player assaulted a massage therapist earlier this month by “touching her with his penis and exposing himself.” The second accuses the 25-year-old of “grabbing Plaintiff’s buttocks and vagina, touching her with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.” In the third, a masseuse accuses Watson of “touching her with his penis and making sexually suggestive comments” in January 2021. The fourth fifth and sixth lawsuits concern incidents alleged to have occurred in July, August and April of last year.
Tony Buzbee, the lawyer who is representing the women, says he will submit affidavits from the plaintiffs to the Houston Police Department and will request a grand jury look into whether Watson should face criminal charges.
None of the 13 massage therapists, who have sued separately but are all represented by Buzbee, are identified by name in the lawsuits. They are each seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as court costs.
Watson has denied that he acted inappropriately and said in a statement last week that he looks forward to clearing his name. In a statement on Friday, an attorney for Watson, Rusty Hardin, called the allegations “meritless.”
Buzbee said some of the massage therapists who came forward work at spas, from their homes, or at at deluxe hotels. All but one, who was flown in from Atlanta, were from the Houston area.
“These are, for the most part, licensed professionals. These are people that, many of them, are single mothers, either own their own shop or work in a spa,” while three clients are married and one is engaged to be married, he said.
The women are suing for $500 in damages, the least that can be sought in a Texas civil district court, “and they bring these cases for one reason only stopping further misconduct from this defendant or any others like him,” he said.
Hardin’s statement said he is “extremely proud to represent Deshaun Watson and wholly stand behind him.”
“However, we will wait to comment in detail until we’ve completed our review of the numerous, evolving allegations from Mr Buzbee,” the statement said. “We will respond next week and ask you to keep an open mind until we do so.”
Watson is one of the league’s top quarterbacks and led the NFL in yards passing last season. He signed a four-year, $156m contract extension with the Texans last offseason, but he became unhappy with the direction of the team as Houston sunk to 4-12 and he requested a trade in January.
The NFL has said it is aware of the allegations and is investigating the matter under its personal conduct policy.