It is the 26th lawsuit filed against Watson by women accusing him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions, and becomes the second active lawsuit. One suit was withdrawn and Watson reached settlements with 23 of his accusers, according to the attorney for the women, Anthony Buzbee.
Deshaun Watson suspended 11 games, fined $5 million under settlement
The woman who filed Thursday’s lawsuit is not represented by Buzbee. The attorney listed on her lawsuit is Anissah M. Nguyen of Houston.
Watson was not available to comment, while his attorney, Rusty Hardin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night. Watson has not been charged with a crime and previously has denied the allegations made against him by the other women.
“I’m moving on with my career, with my life, and I’ll continue to stand on my innocence,” Watson said at an Aug. 18 news conference at the Browns’ training facility in Berea, Ohio. “Just because settlements and things like that happen doesn’t mean that a person is guilty for anything.”
It was not immediately clear Thursday night whether the new allegation could affect the settlement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association by which Watson was suspended for 11 games and fined $5 million for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. Neither the league nor the NFLPA immediately responded to a request for comment. The settlement reportedly covered the cases considered by Sue L. Robinson, the former US district judge who is the disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the league and NFLPA, and any substantially similar violations before the date of the agreement between the league and union.
The settlement came after the NFL appealed the six-game suspension originally imposed by Robinson. The NFL had sought an indefinite suspension of at least one full season.
Watson returned Monday to the Browns’ training facility, the first day he was permitted to rejoin the team under the terms of his suspension. He may resume practicing Nov. 14 and is eligible to play in a game Dec. 4 in Houston against the Texans, his former team. The settlement also required Watson to undergo a professional evaluation and treatment plan. The Browns did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The new lawsuit lists its causes of action as civil assault and the intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seeks unspecified damages. It says that the woman is a licensed massage therapist who was working from home during the pandemic and traveling to meet some clients. Watson contacted her via direct message on Instagram, according to the lawsuit, seeking a massage on Dec. 17, 2020. The woman had no previous contact with Watson and had not worked with any other Texans players, the lawsuit says.
She met Watson at the Houstonian Hotel on or about Dec. 18, 2020, according to the lawsuit. As the woman set up her massage table, Watson went into a bathroom, removed his clothes and came out wearing only a towel, the lawsuit says. He “continually pressured” the woman “into massaging his private area,” the lawsuit says, then “removed his towel and offered to let her ‘get on top.’” The woman refused to have intercourse but was pressured into oral sex, according to the lawsuit, which added that Watson paid her $300.
The woman has “suffered from severe depression and anxiety” due to Watson’s behavior and is seeking counselling, the lawsuit says.