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Texans reach settlements with Deshaun Watson accusers

Accusers of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson reached settlements with the Texans, Watson's former team. (Ron Schwane/AP)

Thirty women accusing Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct reached settlements with Watson’s former team, the Houston Texans, of their claims and potential claims against that NFL franchise, the lawyer for the women announced Friday.

“Today all of the women who have made, or intended to make, claims against the Houston Texans organization have resolved their claims,” attorney Anthony Buzbee said in a statement.

Only one of those women had filed a lawsuit against the Texans. That suit will be dismissed when the settlement paperwork is completed, according to Buzbee. He said the details of the settlements, including financial terms, would remain confidential.

“I will have no further comment on the allegations or the Texans’ alleged role, other than to say that there is a marked contrast in the way in which the Texans addressed these allegations, and the way in which Watson’s team has done so,” Buzbee said.

Texans ‘enabled’ Deshaun Watson’s conduct, accuser says in lawsuit

The Texans acknowledged the “resolution” in a statement attributed to members of the McNair family, which owns the team.

“We were shocked and deeply saddened when we first learned of the allegations against our then franchise quarterback in March 2021,” the team’s statement said. “Although our organization did not have any knowledge of Deshaun Watson’s alleged misconduct, we have intentionally chosen to resolve this matter amicably. This is not an admission of any wrongdoing, but instead a clear stand against any form of sexual assault and misconduct.

“We hope that today’s resolution will provide some form of closure to the parties involved, our fans and the Houston community at large. As an organization, we will now turn our focus to the future and doing what we can to ensure respect for all.”

The NFL declined to comment.

The settlements between the women and the Texans come with the league, the NFL Players Association and Watson awaiting a decision by a disciplinary officer about a potential suspension of Watson.

He has denied the accusations against him and has not been charged with a crime. Buzbee previously announced settlements between Watson and 20 of the 24 women with then-active civil lawsuits pending.

Buzbee said Friday that the other four lawsuits against Watson “will continue” and added: “We hope to try them all in the spring of next year. In the mean-time we will continue to do the important work to prepare for such.”

One of Watson’s accusers filed a lawsuit last month against the Texans, alleging they had “turned a blind eye” and “enabled” Watson’s behavior. Buzbee said then he expected “many” other lawsuits to be filed against the Texans.

The NFL and NFLPA submitted briefs this week to Sue L. Robinson, a former U.S. district judge who serves as the disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the league and the players’ union.

Robinson conducted a three-day hearing last month in Delaware at which the NFL argued, according to a person familiar with the case, that Watson should face an indefinite suspension of at least one full season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The NFLPA is believed to have argued Watson should not be suspended.

It’s not clear when Robinson will make her ruling. If she rules Watson violated the conduct policy and imposes disciplinary measures, the league or the union can appeal to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee. If Robinson rules Watson did not violate the policy, the case is finished, with no possibility of an appeal. Any suspension would be without pay.

The Browns’ opening practice of training camp for veteran players is scheduled for July 27.

Houston traded Watson to Cleveland this offseason. He did not play at all last season, when the Texans placed him on their game-day inactive list on a weekly basis.

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