Seven unnamed women have now separately accused Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct or assault, according to copies of civil lawsuits filed in Harris County District Court this week.
According to the lawsuits, four of which were filed Thursday night, the alleged incidents occurred before or during massage sessions between March 30 and Dec. 28 at a variety of locations in the Houston area. The women allege that Watson exposed himself or touched their hands with his genitals. One also accused him of coercing her into performing oral sex, and another claims he kissed her without permission.
Watson broadly denied wrongdoing in a statement posted to social media on Tuesday night, when the first lawsuit was filed, and said he looks forward to “clearing my name.”
His attorney, Rusty Hardin, and agent, David Mulugheta, have not responded to multiple messages left by USA TODAY Sports in the days since, including on Friday morning. Though Mulugheta did allude to the matter on social media Friday.
“Sexual assault is real. Victims should be heard, offenders prosecuted,” he wrote on Twitter. “Individuals fabricate stories in pursuit of financial gain often. Their victims should be heard, and those offenders also prosecuted. I simply hope we keep this same energy with the truth.”
The NFL has confirmed that it is investigating the matter under the auspices of its personal conduct policy. The Texans have said they are aware of the lawsuits, and the NFL’s investigation, but declined further comment.
It is unclear if any of the women have reported the incident to police, or plan to do so. No criminal charges had been filed against Watson as of Friday morning.
The seven women reside in three states – Georgia, Oregon and Texas – and are represented by the same attorney, former Houston mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee, who wrote on Instagram that he planned to hold a news conference on the matter later Friday afternoon.
Buzbee has previously written that “we won’t try the case(s) in the press” and “this isn’t about the money,” noting that each of the women are seeking only “minimal compensatory damages.” Watson wrote on social media Tuesday that Buzbee had made a “baseless six-figure settlement demand” prior to filing the first lawsuit.
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Among the allegations in the lawsuits that were filed Thursday night and made public Friday:
- The owner of a fitness company alleges that Watson exposed himself and touched her hand with his genitals during a massage session at an unspecified salon in the Houston area on Sept. 24.
- A sports massage therapist claims that Watson touched her hand with his genitals during a massage session at an unnamed Houston spa on June 2.
- A woman who owns a “bodywork and stretch therapy business” alleges that Watson kissed her without her consent at her office around Nov. 2.
- An esthetician – who specializes in skin treatment – claims she had “several sessions” with Watson between Sept. 9 and October at an unnamed spa, and that he touched her hand with his genitals and, on one occasion, attempted to kiss her.
Each of the women allege they first connected with Watson on Instagram, and that he generally asked or directed them to massage his groin, inner thigh or the upper part of his legs.
Watson, 25, is widely regarded as one of the league’s premier quarterbacks. He signed a four-year, $156 million contract with the Texans in September, led the NFL in passing yards last year and has been named to three Pro Bowls.
More recently, the former first-round pick out of Clemson has been the focus of extensive trade speculation. ESPN reported that Watson requested a trade in January, though the Texans have so far declined to ship him to another team.