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Deshaun Watson accused of sexual assault amid new batch of lawsuits

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson faces allegations of sexual misconduct in civil lawsuits filed by women. (Kelvin Kuo/AP)

This story has been updated.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was accused of sexual assault by a woman in a lawsuit filed Monday, as the allegations against him continue to mount.

The new allegations came amid a set of seven additional lawsuits filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Harris County, Tex. The woman is described as offering bodywork and stretch therapy services. She accuses Watson of “grabbing [her] buttocks and vagina, touching her with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.”

Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, said Tuesday that the allegations made against Watson are “completely false.” Hardin said that attorney Anthony G. Buzbee, who represents all of the women to have filed the lawsuits against Watson, has “orchestrated a circus-like atmosphere.” He said he believes that one of the women who filed a suit against Watson “attempted to blackmail” him.

“I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false,” Hardin said in a statement. “And in the one case in which we have been able to identify a plaintiff, we have strong evidence showing the allegation is false.”

Two lawsuits were filed Tuesday against Watson. That brought the number of suits by women accusing Watson of sexual misconduct to 16. Buzbee said during a news conference Friday in Houston that he was planning, at that point, to file 12 lawsuits against Watson and had spoken to at least 10 other women making similar allegations.

According to Hardin, one woman demanded $30,000 “in exchange for her ‘indefinite silence’ about what she stated was a consensual encounter.” Hardin said he believes that woman is one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuits. But Buzbee has declined to provide the names of the plaintiffs, Hardin said. He provided a statement by Bryan Burney, Watson’s marketing manager, supporting the claim of a $30,000 demand.

“Opposing counsel has orchestrated a circus-like atmosphere by using social media to publicize 14 ‘Jane Doe’ lawsuits during the past seven days in a manner calculated to inflame the public and malign Deshaun’s otherwise sterling reputation,” Hardin said. “In addition, the tactic of refusing our requests to confidentially provide the names of the plaintiffs so we can fully investigate their claims makes uncovering the truth extremely difficult. Anonymity is often necessary as a shield for victims but opposing counsel has used it as a sword to publicly humiliate Deshaun before the truth‑seeking process can even begin.”

Buzbee also said Friday that he would submit materials to the Houston Police Department. He said in a social media post over the weekend that he would turn over affidavits and evidence Monday to the police and prosecutors and would request that a grand jury be empaneled to consider criminal charges.

Watson has not been charged with any crimes. He denied the initial allegations, saying he rejected a settlement offer before the first lawsuit was filed.

The NFL has said it has opened an investigation of Watson under its personal conduct policy.

UltraViolet, a women’s advocacy group, was critical Monday of the NFL’s response.

“The NFL’s failure to take the mounting sexual abuse lawsuits against Deshaun Watson more seriously is an infuriating sign of the league’s cavalier attitude toward violence against women,” the group said in a statement by its campaign director, Elisa Batista. “Despite the severity of these allegations and the pattern that Watson targeted women massage therapists specifically, the NFL has taken zero action, insisting that the matter is simply ‘under review.’ What’s equally troubling is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s indifference. For years, [Goodell] has turned a blind eye to violence and sexual abuse committed by players throughout the League.”

The group said Watson “should have been suspended immediately last week after the initial allegations of abuse emerged” and that Goodell “is not fit to serve as NFL Commissioner” and “must go.”

Two of the 16 lawsuits list sexual assault as a cause of action, including a previous suit by a massage therapist who accused Watson of forcing her to perform oral sex. Those two lawsuits and the 14 others list civil assault and the intentional infliction of emotional distress as causes of action.

The other lawsuits have contained several different accusations against Watson, including that he exposed himself, touched women with his penis, tried to kiss women without their consent, made sexually suggestive comments and masturbated in front of one woman.

In one of the suits filed Monday, a massage therapist accuses Watson of exposing himself and touching her with his penis during a massage session March 5 in Atlanta. Buzbee said Friday that Watson’s alleged inappropriate conduct had taken place as recently as this month, after Buzbee had been in contact last month with the general counsel of the agency that represents Watson.

Houston police said Friday they were not aware of any contact with Buzbee to that point. Buzbee said he had been in contact with a police representative with whom he was familiar.

Watson previously requested a trade by the Texans. Team officials have said they do not intend to comply with that trade request.

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The latest: Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, announced that the committee intends to issue a subpoena to compel the testimony of Commanders owner Daniel Snyder.

Exclusive: An employee of Washington’s NFL team accused Snyder of asking for sex, groping her and attempting to remove her clothes, according to legal correspondence obtained by The Post. A team investigation concluded the woman was lying in an attempt to extort Snyder.

Civil suits settled: Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached settlement agreements in 20 of the 24 active civil lawsuits filed against him by women who accused him of sexual misconduct, the attorney for the women announced.

Jerry Brewer: “The Browns were prepared for initial turbulence, but they assumed they were getting Watson at the end of his troubles. Now his disgrace is their disaster.”

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