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Another Texas grand jury declines to charge Deshaun Watson with a crime

Quarterback Deshaun Watson was traded from the Texans to the Browns. (Eric Christian Smith/AP)

Another grand jury in Texas declined to charge Deshaun Watson with a crime stemming from the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.

Grand jurors in Brazoria County made the decision Thursday after considering a case involving a client of Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing 22 women who have filed civil lawsuits against Watson.

“After a careful and thorough review of the facts and evidence documented in the reports prepared by the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston Police Department, as well as hearing testimony from witnesses, the Grand Jury for Brazoria County has declined to charge Deshaun Watson with any crimes,” Tom Selleck, the criminal district attorney for Brazoria County, said in a statement. “Accordingly, this matter is closed.”

A grand jury in Harris County, Tex., previously decided not to charge Watson with a crime in any of the nine cases that it considered. That led to several NFL teams pursuing Watson in a trade, culminating with the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback being sent from the Houston Texans to the Cleveland Browns last week.

“We are thrilled that the Brazoria County grand jury cleared Deshaun Watson of the one remaining criminal allegation,” Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement Thursday. “We’ve known all along what people who learn the facts also know — Deshaun committed no crimes. In fact, two separate grand juries have now found that there wasn’t even probable cause to believe he committed a crime.”

Browns did not contact Deshaun Watson’s 22 accusers during their investigation, attorney says

Hardin said he had been made aware of the latest grand jury proceedings, adding that both Watson’s side and the complainant “were offered the opportunity to provide any information we wanted to the grand jury.” The Browns also “knew this grand jury presentation was pending,” Hardin said.

“It is time to let the civil litigation proceed at a normal pace and for Deshaun Watson to take his place as the quarterback of the future for the Browns,” Hardin said. “I am fully confident that the Cleveland community will discover that Deshaun Watson is not just a great quarterback but also an incredibly decent person they will be proud to have represent their city.”

The Browns traded a package of draft choices, including three first-round picks, to the Texans for Watson and signed him to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract. The Browns said Sunday that they performed “extensive investigative, legal and reference work” before deciding to make Friday’s trade for Watson. Buzbee said Sunday that he was not contacted by the Browns.

“The Browns organization did not reach out to me,” Buzbee said then in an email. “I didn’t expect them to do so, and can understand why they didn’t. But, knowing what I know, they probably should have.”

Buzbee said in an email earlier Thursday that the case in Brazoria County “does involve one of my clients.”

Watson and Hardin have denied the allegations. Watson has begun to give depositions in the civil cases.

The Browns did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.

Houston Texans agree to trade Deshaun Watson to Cleveland Browns

In a statement released Sunday, Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said: “We have done extensive investigative, legal and reference work over the past several months to provide us with the appropriate information needed to make an informed decision about pursuing him and moving forward with him as our quarterback. Deshaun has been among the very best at the position and he understands the work needed to re-establish himself on and off the field in Cleveland. We are confident that he will make positive contributions to our team and community as we support his return to football.”

Watson faces potential discipline by the NFL under its personal conduct policy. The league is investigating the case.

“We continue to closely monitor all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy,” the NFL said in a statement issued Thursday through a spokesman.

Watson did not play last season. The NFL left him eligible to play, but the Texans placed him on their game-day inactive list on a weekly basis.

The Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers also pursued a deal for the quarterback before Watson decided to waive the no-trade clause in his contract to facilitate the deal with the Browns. All four teams had meetings with Watson during the deliberations.

The Browns signed Jacoby Brissett to back up Watson. They have not yet traded their incumbent quarterback, Baker Mayfield.

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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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