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Deshaun Watson to Settle 20 Alleged Sexual Misconduct Lawsuits

Sports

Deshaun Watson | Image by Nick Cammett/Getty Images

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Attorney Tony Buzbee announced that 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits his office is pursuing against former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will be settled.

The first woman to accuse Watson, Ashley Solis, is among the four cases that did not agree to settlement terms.

“The cases against Deshaun Watson began with one phone call from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis,” Buzbee wrote in a statement announcing the settlements. “At the time of that call, she was just one of hundreds of calls seeking legal assistance that our firm gets weekly. Even though she was initially turned away by our screening process, my staff insisted that I speak with her personally. I am glad she persisted.”

Buzbee said that after speaking with Watson’s lawyer, the decision to help Solis was the first step in an avalanche of accusations.

He claimed that Watson’s attorney disrespected Ashley and her profession and referred to the football player as an “asset” while allegedly minimizing the seriousness of the allegations.

This led to the firm expanding the investigation into claims against Watson, which quickly resulted in more accusers coming forward.

“They have endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced withering cross-examination by skilled litigators and stood firm,” Buzbee said. “They are warriors all. It is important to point out that, without Ashley Solis, the conduct experienced by these women would have continued unfettered.”

Buzbee stated that the agreement to settle is still in the works; however, the framework of terms has been agreed upon. Once the paperwork has been completed, the 20 cases against Watson will be dismissed.

A spokesman for the NFL said that the settlements would have “no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.”

Sports Illustrated reported the NFL investigation concluded on June 4, and a decision could come any day detailing whether and for how long Watson may be suspended.

Watson continues to maintain his innocence and stated recently in his first media appearance as a member of the Browns organization that the NFL’s Personal Conduct investigation would “clear [his] name and be able to let the facts and the legal procedures continue to play out.”

Solis reported the alleged incident with Watson in March 2020 but did not acquire representation until December that year.

In March 2021, two separate grand juries decided not to pursue criminal charges against Watson, paving the way for his trade to Cleveland.

Watson had been seeking a trade out of Houston when the allegations broke. According to several reports, many of the teams that expressed interest, including the Miami Dolphins, wanted all of the civil cases resolved prior to agreeing to terms.

Meanwhile, Cleveland offered an unprecedented $230 million guaranteed contract that includes a $1 million base salary for 2022, intended to offset Watson’s losses should the NFL decide to suspend him for the season.

All of the allegations levied against Watson involve conduct at massage sessions, some of which were facilitated by the Houston Texans.

The team also provided Watson with a nondisclosure agreement for others to sign after one woman threatened to speak out about his alleged actions, according to reporting by the New York Times.

Buzbee said that Watson’s representatives offered $100,000 to each alleged victim in a settlement offer recorded in court filings.

While 24 women have come forward to pursue charges, investigative reporting by the New York Times revealed that as many as 66 women may have experienced behavior from Watson ranging from solicitation of sex to ejaculation on the unsuspecting women.

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