One of the women who accused Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct filed a lawsuit Monday against the Houston Texans, alleging Watson’s former team “turned a blind eye” and “enabled” his behavior.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents other Watson accusers in addition to the woman who filed Monday’s lawsuit against the Texans, said he expects “many” other lawsuits to be filed against the team.
“Today we filed the first case of what will likely be many against the Houston Texans related to Deshaun Watson’s behavior,” Buzbee said in a statement. “Suffice it to say, the overwhelming evidence collected indicating that the Houston Texans enabled Watson’s behavior is incredibly damning. We believe the Texans knew or most certainly should have known of Watson’s conduct. Beyond that, we believe the filing speaks for itself.”
The Texans responded in a statement, saying: “We are aware of the lawsuit filed against us today. Since March 2021, we have fully supported and complied with law enforcement and the various investigations. We will continue to take the necessary steps to address the allegations against our organization.”
The lawsuit says the woman “seeks any and all damages to which she may be entitled.” It accuses the Texans of negligence and civil conspiracy, among other listed causes of action.
“Despite being actually aware of what can only be described as troubling behavior, the Houston Texans turned a blind eye,” the lawsuit says. “Worse, the Houston Texans organization enabled Watson’s egregious behavior. The Texans also protected and shielded Watson — for Watson’s own protection and the protection of the organization itself. The bottom line is this, Watson was a Houston Texans’ employee; individuals within the Texans organization knew or should have known of Watson’s conduct.”
Houston Texans sued for enabling Deshaun Watson’s alleged misconduct. 42-page complaint asserts claims for civil assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligence under a vicarious liability theory. The first lawsuit of "likely many," per attorney Tony Buzbee. pic.twitter.com/3MJJKBCM6O— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) June 27, 2022
Monday’s lawsuit says the team “helped secure a membership at the Houstonian [Hotel] for Watson,” alleging that Watson “used that membership to obtain massages that [led] to sexual assault.” It says the Texans “furnished Watson with a non-disclosure agreement, which, starting in the fall of 2020, Watson pressed women to sign at the massage sessions.”
The lawsuit also says Watson “routinely borrowed a massage table from the Texans.” According to the suit, representatives of Genuine Touch, a massage therapy entity “formally contracted with the Texans,” were “well aware of Watson’s proclivities.”
The lawsuit calls Watson’s behavior with the plaintiff “part of a disturbing, predatory, and incriminating pattern with a multitude of female victims” and says: “It has been widely reported in the press that Watson sought out at least sixty-six different massage therapists in a short time span, mostly by Instagram. The truth is that number is likely more than a hundred. Watson did so while employed by the Houston Texans, using his status and resources provided to him as a Houston Texans player.”
Buzbee previously announced that Watson had reached settlement agreements in 20 of the 24 then-active civil lawsuits filed against him. Buzbee said then that he expected the other lawsuits to be resolved in court.
According to Buzbee’s firm, the woman who filed Monday’s lawsuit against the Texans did not reach a settlement agreement with Watson and has one of the lawsuits still pending.
The woman accuses Watson of “aggressively exposing his naked body to her, purposely touching her with his penis, and ultimately ejaculating onto her” during a massage therapy session.
Watson has denied the allegations against him and has not been charged with a crime. He still faces a potential suspension by the NFL under its personal conduct policy, which allows for disciplinary measures without criminal charges.
Tuesday’s hearing is before Sue L. Robinson, a former U.S. district judge who is the disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association. The NFLPA is expected to argue to Robinson for far less severe disciplinary action against Watson, perhaps with no suspension at all.
Robinson will make the initial disciplinary ruling in the case. Any potential appeal would be resolved by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person designated by him.
The Texans traded Watson to the Browns in March. Watson was not suspended by the NFL last season but did not play for the Texans, who placed him on their game-day inactive list on a weekly basis. He was paid his full salary.