Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said during a news conference on Friday that he would file an additional five lawsuits against Deshaun Watson “in due course” – bringing the number to 12 relating to inappropriate behavior and sexual assault by the Texas quarterback are due.
Buzbee also said he spoke to “more than 10 additional women” who came up with reports of similar behavior by Watson after encounters.
Buzbee said alleged inappropriate behavior by Watson did not occur until this month after Buzbee first said he spoke with Watson’s attorney Scott Gaffield. Watson has since hired Houston attorney Rusty Hardin.
Buzbee said during the press conference that his office has been in contact with the police and that he will give them information about the women who are planning to sue Watson. The Houston Police Department said in a statement on Twitter Later on Friday, he was not aware of any contact with Buzbee regarding the allegations or filing incident reports. Buzbee later wrote on social media that the contact he was referring to earlier was with a detective he knows who has reached out to him.
Buzbee also said he was not aware of any police reports filed prior to the civil suits.
“This will be our next step,” said Buzbee, noting that he will do so when his customers are ready, but without giving a timeline of when it will be.
Buzbee said Watson’s agent had known of the allegations for more than a month.
“We actually had contact with Deshaun Watson’s agent / attorney from Los Angeles who minimized these allegations and didn’t take them seriously,” said Buzbee. “We wanted to resolve this matter without complaint and without advertising. We knew that after a lawsuit was filed, Texas naturally had an open court provision in the constitution, so all lawsuits are public. We wanted to avoid that.” . “
Hardin issued a statement Friday saying the allegations against Watson were “unfounded”.
“I am very proud to represent Deshaun Watson and to stand behind him, which we consider to be baseless allegations,” said Hardin. “However, we will wait to complete our review of Mr Buzbee’s numerous evolving allegations. We will respond next week and ask you to stay open until we do so.”
Following Buzbee’s announcement of the first lawsuit on Tuesday, Watson responded on Twitter that he had “denied an unfounded six-digit settlement request” and that it was “a matter of clearing my name and I’m looking forward to it.” At the time of his statement, Watson said he hadn’t seen the first lawsuit.
“I have never treated a woman with anything other than the utmost respect,” said Watson in his statement.
Speaking at the news conference on Friday, Buzbee said one of the women said Watson had been referred to her by a Texas sports coach, while another woman said Watson had been referred to her by Quincy Avery, Watson’s personal quarterback and sports coach.
Buzbee said when he filed the first lawsuit Tuesday night, he only represented two women. Since then, the other women have contacted me.
Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL, said Thursday “the matter is currently under review” and the Texans said they would stay in close contact with the NFL during the league’s investigation. Buzbee said he had no contact with the Texans and that the only contact he had with the NFL was the letter he received from Lisa Friel, the League’s special adviser on investigations.
Buzbee has not yet responded directly to the NFL’s request to interview him and his clients, league sources Ed Werder of ESPN said, although he praised the collaboration in his press conference. The NFL protocol would also include a possible interview with Watson.
Under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, Watson could face punishment if the league determines the allegations are true, regardless of the outcome in court. However, a source told Werder that it was premature to discuss what the allegations could mean for Watson’s future.
Although it has been speculated that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell might put Watson on the exception list, this is not considered a current option as the NFL off-season has begun and this process was designed to keep players exposed to potential disciplinary action out of the drills and remove games.
The seven lawsuits filed so far show a pattern of sexual assault against massage therapists in the Houston area. One woman claims she was forced to have oral sex during the massage. Six of the lawsuits allege these were one-time encounters with Watson, but one woman alleges she was sexually assaulted by Watson on multiple occasions. This lawsuit states that the first massage was booked through the spa where the licensed esthetician worked. The other six lawsuits claim Watson first inquired about the massage via Instagram direct messages.
Three of the four lawsuits filed on Thursday night accuse him of inappropriate contact; The fourth said he tried forcibly to kiss a woman.
“Watson’s behavior is part of a troubling pattern of chasing after women at risk,” the fourth lawsuit said.
All of the women who have filed lawsuits against Watson to date have done so anonymously. Many of them claim they were intimidated by his physical stature and status as an NFL quarterback.
Buzbee said Friday that three of the women his law firm represents “are receiving intensive therapy because of the defendant’s behavior”.
Watson’s agent David Mulugheta posted on Twitter on Friday.
“Sexual assault is real. Victims should be heard and offenders prosecuted,” Mulugheta wrote on Friday. “Individuals often make up stories for financial gain. Their victims should be heard, and these criminals should be prosecuted as well. I just hope we keep the same energy with the truth.”