deshaun watson

Deshaun Watson Reaches Settlements in 20 of 24 Sexual Misconduct Lawsuits

The Cleveland Browns quarterback was facing civil lawsuits from 24 massage therapists accusing him of sexual assault and harassment

Deshaun Watson

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached confidential settlements with 20 of the 24 woman who filed lawsuits against him, plaintiff attorney Tony Buzbee said in a statement Tuesday.

Watson was facing civil lawsuits from 24 massage therapists accusing him of sexual assault and harassment during private sessions in 2020 and 2021 when he was quarterback for the Houston Texans.

"Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled," said Buzbee, who represents all 24 women suing Watson. "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."

The lawsuit of Ashley Solis, the first plaintiff to speak out and sue Watson, is one of the four cases that did not settle.   

"As stated, Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story," Buzbee said. "Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue. I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court's schedule."

With the NFL's investigation still underway, disciplinary action against Watson remains a possibility.

Watson, who entered the league in 2017 and was named to three Pro Bowls, reportedly requested a trade from the Texans in early 2021 after growing discontentment with management. The stalemate between the quarterback and franchise came to a halt in March of 2021 when the first allegation emerged regarding an incident that reportedly occurred the year before. Within three weeks of the initial lawsuit being filed, a total of 22 had come forward.

Watson sat the entirety of the 2021 season, his absence listed as “non-injury related.”

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Watson was not facing criminal charges after two grand juries declined to indict him in March. After the first grand jury declined criminal charges on March 11, the trade market for Watson intensified. The Browns acquired the 26-year-old quarterback on March 18, signing him to a five-year, $230 million contract.

While speaking publicly for the first time in nearly three months at the Browns' practice facility on June 14, Watson continued to maintain his innocence by reiterating that he never committed sexual misconduct.

“I never assaulted anyone,” Watson said. “I never harassed anyone or I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything.”

Still, he expressed regret. 

“I do have regrets as far as the impact that (it’s had) on the community and people outside of just myself,” Watson said. “And that includes my family. That includes this organization. That includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer to these questions. That includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns. That includes males, females, everyone across the, the world. That’s one thing I do regret is the impact that it’s triggered on so many people. It’s tough to have to deal with.”

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