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 Tuesday.
“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled,” Buzbee said in a statement. “We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”
“Today’s development has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
Watson and his attorney, Rusty Hardin, have denied the allegations.
Of the remaining civil lawsuits, Buzbee said: “I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court’s schedule.”
The allegations made against Watson by the women include making inappropriate comments, exposing himself and forcing his penis on women’s hands during massage therapy sessions.
Hardin did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“I’ve been honest and I’ve been truthful about my stance,” Watson told reporters last week at a Browns offseason practice. “And that’s: I never forced anyone. I never assaulted anyone. ... I’ve been saying it from the beginning. And I’m going to continue to do that. Until all the facts come out on the legal side, I have to continue to just go with the process of my legal team and the court of law.”
Watson had given no public indication last week that he was interested in settling the lawsuits.
“Like I said, I just want to clear my name and be able to let the facts and the legal procedures continue to play out,” he said then. “So right now, that’s all I’m doing is wanting to clear my name and be able to let all the facts come out in a court of law and be able to focus on that.”
The NFL plans to argue to the league’s new disciplinary officer that Watson should receive a “significant” suspension for violating the personal conduct policy, multiple people familiar with the case said Friday. The suspension that the league seeks of Watson could be for approximately one full season, one of those people said.
The NFL must present the findings of its investigation to Sue L. Robinson, the former U.S. district judge who is the disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association under the current version of the conduct policy.
It was not clear Tuesday whether the case has been presented to Robinson.
The league hopes the entire disciplinary process, including the resolution of any potential appeal to Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person designated by him, is completed by the start of training camp, a person with knowledge of the matter said Friday. The Browns are scheduled to hold their opening practice of training camp on July 27.
“When it comes down to the league and their decision, we have to respect that and let them do their process and finish their investigation and report,” Watson said last week. “And like I said before, I’ve talked to the league. I’ve been honest and told them truthfully of every question that they asked. So I can’t really have [any] control on that.”
Buzbee said in an email Monday that he and his clients had no ongoing involvement in the NFL disciplinary process beyond the interviews that some of the women conducted last year with league representatives.
“Whatever the NFL does or fails to do has no bearing whatsoever on the civil cases,” Buzbee said in Monday’s email.
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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.”