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Deshaun Watson accused of sexual misconduct in lawsuits stemming from massage sessions; QB issues denial

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has denied allegations made against him in a lawsuit. (AP Photo/Ed Zurga, File)

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was accused of sexual misconduct in a pair of civil lawsuits filed by two women over alleged incidents last year related to massage sessions.

The initial lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Harris County, Tex., alleges that Watson “assaulted” the unnamed plaintiff “by touching her with his penis” during a massage. The suit says that Watson “committed civil assault” on the woman and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. It seeks unspecified damages.

The second lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the same court and contains similar accusations made by an unidentified masseuse over an alleged incident in August.

Watson denied the initial allegations in a written statement posted Tuesday night on social media.

“As a result of a social media post by a publicity-seeking plaintiff’s lawyer, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me,” Watson wrote on Twitter. “I have not yet seen the complaint, but I know this: I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect. The plaintiff’s lawyer claims that this isn’t about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected. Unlike him, this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”

The woman’s attorney, Anthony G. Buzbee, wrote Tuesday night on social media that the lawsuit had been filed.

Neither Buzbee nor representatives for Watson responded to requests Wednesday for further comment.

“We became aware of a lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson through a social media post [Tuesday] night,” the Texans said in a written statement. “This is the first time we heard of the matter, and we hope to learn more soon. We take accusations of this nature that involve anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously. We will await further information before making any additional statements on this incident.”

According to the initial lawsuit, the woman is a professionally licensed massage therapist who works from her home and has been in business since 2018. Watson contacted her via a direct message on Instagram, according to the lawsuit, seeking to schedule a massage March 28, 2020. The woman had “never had any type of contact” with Watson previously, the suit says, and had not worked with any Texans players.

Watson told the woman “that he wanted a massage for relaxation” and then inquired in a text message, after obtaining her phone number, whether she was “comfortable with certain areas [his] organization is making [him] get worked on,” the lawsuit says. The massage was scheduled for March 30 at the woman’s home, and Watson asked, according to the suit, whether the woman would be alone in the house.

On the day of the alleged incident, the woman left Watson alone in the massage room “for a few minutes” and returned to find Watson “lying on the massage table completely naked with only a small towel covering his groin area,” the lawsuit says. The lawsuit accuses Watson of “aggressively” dictating how he wanted the massage to be performed and instructing the woman “only to use her hands.” Watson “repeatedly stated that he wanted her focus to be on his groin area,” according to the suit.

The woman began to feel “extremely uncomfortable” after about 25 minutes, the lawsuit says, adding, “It became apparent that Watson wanted a massage for only one reason — sex.”

The lawsuit alleges that at one point Watson “purposely exposed the tip of his penis from under the towel.” Watson “purposely touched Plaintiff’s hand with the tip of his erect penis,” according to the suit, which says the woman “was shocked and mortified,” ended the massage and asked Watson to leave. The woman “was scared and started crying,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that Watson left the woman’s home “without further incident” after saying, “I know you have a career and a reputation, and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.” The woman considered that a threat by Watson, according to the lawsuit, which says that Watson later apologized to the woman by text message but she did not respond. The woman later received direct messages on Instagram from two other NFL players saying they had been recommended to her by “Big D,” the suit says.

The second lawsuit also was filed by Buzbee. It alleges that Watson “assaulted and harassed” the woman “by touching her with his penis and exposing himself.” That suit calls Watson’s behavior “part of a disturbing pattern of preying on vulnerable women.” It likewise accuses Watson of civil assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress and seeks unspecified damages.

That suit says that Watson arranged for the masseuse to travel from Atlanta to Houston to meet Watson at a hotel for a massage Aug. 28. According to the lawsuit, Watson “immediately got completely nude and got on the massage table with his penis completely exposed.” The woman reluctantly proceeded with the massage but Watson later moved to cause her “hand to touch Watson’s genitals,” according to the lawsuit.

The woman stopped the massage after Watson refused to wear a towel, the suit says. Watson allegedly grabbed the woman’s hand, rubbed her arm and said it was “okay.” The woman left the hotel room with Watson in the shower, according to the lawsuit, and was paid only half of what Watson owed her. According to the suit, the woman did not respond when Watson contacted her months later to say he was in Atlanta and asked whether she was available.

Watson, 25, is one of the NFL’s most prominent quarterbacks. He has been selected to the Pro Bowl in three of his four NFL seasons, all of them with the Texans. He signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension with the team last year. Watson recently has requested that the Texans trade him, reportedly displeased that the team didn’t follow through on promises that he would have input in an organizational overhaul this offseason. Texans officials have said they don’t intend to comply with Watson’s trade request.

Watson could face disciplinary measures under the NFL’s personal conduct policy if the allegations are substantiated.

“We are aware of the suit but will decline further comment at this time,” the NFL said through a spokesman Wednesday before the second lawsuit was filed.

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