Although Deshaun Watson’s NFL career is now resumed with The Cleveland Browns after grand juries declined indict him for any criminal charges related to sexual misconduct allegations, his legal troubles are not over.
The 22 women who filed suit against Watson in Houston for sexual assault and harassment are still pending. There is no set trial date. Watson denied any wrongdoing and stated last month that he had “never assaulted, disrespected, or harassed any women in my life.”
Tony Buzbee, an attorney representing the 22 women, stated that while Watson’s legal problems have made it difficult for his clients to take part in NFL activities, the attorney is now focusing on gathering evidence, including depositions from the quarterback, in preparation of going to civil trial.
Buzbee stated, “All the other stuff around is just noise because my sole focus is preparing cases to be tried and that I intend to win them.”
Watson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin said that Watson should be allowed to continue playing after the criminal charges against him were dismissed by two grand jury. The civil cases are continuing through the usual legal channels.
Hardin stated, “What they want is that he be punished without any process and to become unemployed without any process. That’s insane.”
In their lawsuits, the women claim that Watson exposed himself to them, touched their penis and kissed them during massage sessions. Watson allegedly forced one woman to have oral sex.
Last month, two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson for criminal charges stemming out of the allegations.
David Ring, a California-based lawyer who is not involved in the lawsuits, stated that while Watson was “proud” of his innocence, there could be negative information from the lawsuits that could affect his eligibility to play or whether NFL fans embrace him fully.
Ring stated that he believes there is a large section of the NFL fanbase that is still interested in the outcome to the civil cases. The more information about Ring, the more damaging it can be.”
Watson was scheduled to be deposed for approximately 50 hours. Buzbee stated that he still has 30 hours to go. Watson’s depositions could extend into the summer, as they are being conducted on separate days.
Buzbee’s and Hardin’s views on Watson’s depositions are different.
Buzbee stated that Watson did not give any reasons in the depositions as to why he contacted others on Instagram for massages or used the professional services provided by the Houston Texans.
Buzbee stated that “he literally doesn’t know why he did it this way.”
Hardin stated that he was concerned that the depositions were only done to make certain damaging information public, and to create pressure for Watson to settle the cases.
Hardin stated that Watson’s depositions by Buzbee were “not very informative at the end of it all.”
The upcoming NFL season will not see any civil trials. Both sides agreed last month to no trials between August 1 and March 1.
Buzbee claimed that he tried to get the first civil trial in July, but Watson’s lawyers weren’t interested.
Hardin stated that there had been discussions about a July trial for one or more of the lawsuits, but issues regarding scheduling between the lawyers and the judge remain unresolved.
Ring stated that he believes that “serious settlement negotiations” will begin as soon as the ongoing discovery process, which includes depositions and gathering evidence, ends. Ring stated that 95% of civil lawsuits are settled before trial.
Ring stated that “the odds are it will be a settlement at one point.”
Buzbee stated that he still plans to have a separate trial for each one of the 22 lawsuits.
Hardin stated that there are no settlement discussions currently, but said that a trial was not going to be a success for Buzbee.