Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached a confidential settlement with all but four of the 24 women who sued and accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions in 2020 and early 2021, said Tuesday women’s advocate.
The settlements end the women’s litigation against him nearly 15 months after most were filed in 2021.
“Today I am announcing that all but four cases against Deshaun Watson are resolved,” plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee said in a statement. “We are working on the documents related to these regulations. Once we do, those special cases will be discarded. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We will not comment further on the settlements or these cases.
The case settlement allows Watson to move on from most litigation after generating regular headlines about him, at least somewhat spoiling his recent arrival in Cleveland as the new $230 million quarterback. of the Browns. Settling cases also allows him to avoid several days of deposition testimony scheduled for him this week. These depositions no longer take place.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in May that the investigation into the allegations against Watson was nearing completion, but it’s unclear what the league knew about two new lawsuits filed against Watson this year or information from of the recent discovery before the trial.
“Today’s development has no impact on the collectively negotiated disciplinary process,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, declined to comment Tuesday when contacted by USA TODAY Sports.
Hardin had said the women were lying and that Buzbee considered Watson a “payday” after the women accused Watson of inappropriate behavior, including exposing himself, having his genitals touch them and, in some cases, by forcing sexual relations.
Watson, 26, was never arrested or charged after two Texas grand juries declined to indict him. There could have been several reasons why the grand juries chose not to indict him, including the lack of hard evidence in these individual cases when Watson’s word was opposed to that of the women. Only one of the criminal plaintiffs was called to testify in the Harris County grand jury proceedings in March, although other plaintiffs were subpoenaed there and ready to testify, Buzbee told USA TODAY Sports previously. .
One of the cases that has not been settled is the trial of the first plaintiff to sue Watson, Ashley Solis. Buzbee said he looked forward to hearing his case and the others would remain active in due course.
“The cases against Deshaun Watson started with a phone call, from a brave and strong woman,” Buzbee said. “That woman was Ashley Solis. At the time of this call, she was just one of hundreds of calls requesting legal assistance that our firm receives each week. Although she was initially denied through our screening process, my staff insisted that I speak to her personally. I’m glad she persisted. Once we had a second look, and after contacting Watson’s original attorney who missed out of respect to Ashley and his profession and who arrogantly downplayed the conduct of someone he called an “asset”, I felt strongly that our law firm should try to help him.
“Thanks to Ashley’s lonely but courageous voice, soon many women who allegedly experienced the same behavior were encouraged to come forward. I am incredibly proud to represent them all. They endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced blistering cross-examination by skilled litigants and held their ground. They are all warriors. Today we have an important announcement regarding these cases, but it is important to note that, without Ashley Solis, the conduct experienced by these women would likely have continued unhindered. The truth is that without her courage and willingness to come forward, the NFL would not currently be considering discipline; there would be no review of how teams might knowingly or unknowingly activate certain behaviors; sports teams would not revise their personnel selection processes; and this important story would not have made the front page of s sports diaries for over a year.
One of the most recent lawsuits against Watson noted that Watson had previously offered each plaintiff $100,000 to settle their cases, but not all would accept that amount, “due to the aggressive nondisclosure agreement proposed by the Watson team”. Likewise, the terms of the settlements may never be revealed.
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