Four more women on Thursday accused Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct in separate lawsuits — bringing the total to seven, accusing him of wrongdoing.
All four of these plaintiffs, who filed as Jane Doe in Harris County District Court, were massage therapists, spa workers or body work specialists who accused the NFL star of exposing himself and repeatedly touching them with his penis.
Like the three other women who accused Watson of sexual misconduct this week, most were contacted on Instagram by the NFL player, according to lawsuits filed by their lawyer Anthony Buzbee.
The attorney said he’ll file lawsuits from five more accusers in coming days — and that his office is investigating 10 additional, similar allegations.
“It takes a lot of courage, a lot of courage to step forward when you’re dealing with somebody powerful,” Buzbee told reporters late Friday afternoon.
“Like it or not, sports is big. People blindly and irrationally follow sports and are loathe to believe victims. That’s just the way it is.”
Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement that he was “extremely proud” to represent the football player and “wholly stand behind him against what we believe are meritless allegations.”
He said he could not comment further until the allegations are reviewed.
“We will respond next week and ask you to keep an open mind until we do so,” Hardin said.After the first lawsuit was filed, Watson said in a statement Tuesday that he was being wrongly targeted by a “publicity-seeking” lawyer.
“I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect,” he said. “The plaintiff’s lawyer claims that this isn’t about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected. Unlike him, this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”
In an alleged Sept. 24 incident this past year at a Houston salon, Watson frequently moved “his body in a way that would repeatedly cause his penis to touch” the woman’s hand, according to her civil complaint.
“Plaintiff was shocked and moved away from him,” the lawsuit claimed. “Lying on the table on his back, Watson then ejaculated. Plaintiff immediately stopped the session and left the room. Watson dressed and left. Plaintiff felt violated and disgusted.”
In a June 2 session at a Houston spa, Watson exposed himself “several times” and “moved his body in such a way to make his penis touch plaintiff,” who was left feeling “absolutely terrified,” according to the lawsuit. The June 2 plaintiff appears to be the first of Watson’s accusers who said she had experience doing massage therapy for football players and other “high-profile athletes.”
In an October spa encounter, Watson allegedly tried to touch the therapist’s hand with his penis and complained that she was “wearing too many clothes,” accoding to Buzbee.
Watson “without notice kissed” another plaintiff during a Nov. 2 session at her office, the lawsuit said. As Watson moved his his penis toward the woman, he “told her that he would pay extra to have plaintiff work on those areas,” according to the civil complaint.
Three massage therapists and clients of Buzbee filed separate lawsuits earlier this week, accusing Watson of similar sexual misconduct allegations, including one woman who alleged that she was forced to perform oral sex.
Harris County sheriff’s deputies have not received a sexual assault complaint against Watson, a department spokesman said Friday.
A Houston police spokesman said Friday the department cannot confirm or deny any ongoing investigation. Buzbee said his office will turn over all its findings to police.
“Sexual assault is real. Victims should be heard, offenders prosecuted,” Watson’s agent David Mulugheta said in statement on Friday.
“Individuals fabricate stories in pursuit of financial gain often. Their victims should be heard, and those offenders also prosecuted. I simply hope we keep this same energy with the truth.”
The NFL told the Houston Texans on Thursday that the league has begun an investigation into the allegations against Watson, officials said.
“The NFL informed us today that they will conduct an investigation into the allegations made in the civil lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson. We will stay in close contact with the league as they do,” a Houston Texans spokesperson said in an email.
“We continue to take this and all matters involving anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously. We do not anticipate making any additional statements until the NFL’s investigation concludes.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told NBC News in an email that the “matter is under review of the league’s personal conduct policy.” Regardless of a criminal conviction or investigation, the NFL can suspend Watson if they find he violated the league’s personal conduct policy, including sexual misconduct, according to the NFL website.
Watson has played four seasons for the Texans, but he’s demanded to be traded. His future has been a point of nonstop speculation since the end of the 2020 season, when he threw for a league-high 4,823 yards.