Cleveland Brown quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached a confidential settlement with all but four of the 24 women who sued him and accused him of sexual abuse during massage sessions in 2020 and early 2021, the women’s lawyer said Tuesday.
The settlement ends the women’s lawsuits against him almost 15 months after most were brought in 2021.
“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have been settled,” said plaintiff’s attorney Tony Buzbee in a statement. “We are working through the papers related to these settlements. Once we have done that, the special cases will be dropped. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We will not comment further on the settlements or those cases. “
Settling the cases allows Watson to move on from most of the trial after it generated regular ugly headlines about him, at least somewhat devastating to his recent arrival at Cleveland as the Browns’ new $ 230 million quarterback. Deciding the cases also helps him avoid several days of testimony that was planned for him this week. These provisions do not go any further.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in May that the investigation into the charges against Watson was coming to an end, but it is not clear what the league knew about two new lawsuits against Watson this year or information that came out of recent discovery before the trial.
“Today’s developments have no impact on the collective disciplinary process,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.
Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, declined to comment on Tuesday when contacted by USA TODAY Sports.
Hardin had said the women lied and that Buzbee viewed Watson as a “payday” after the women accused Watson of inappropriate behavior, including exposing himself, causing her genitals to touch them and in some cases, forced sex.
Watson, 26, was never arrested or charged after two large Texas juries refused to prosecute him. There may have been several reasons why the grand juries chose not to prosecute him, including the lack of hard evidence in these cases individually when Watson’s words were set against the women’s. Only one of the criminal plaintiffs was called in to testify before the Harris County Grand Jury in March, although other plaintiffs were summoned and ready to testify, Buzbee told USA TODAY Sports earlier.
One of the cases that was not settled is the lawsuit filed by the first plaintiff who sued Watson, Ashley Solis. Buzbee said he is looking forward to trying her case and that the others will remain active over time.
“The cases against Deshaun Watson started with a phone call from a brave and strong woman,” Buzbee said. “This woman was Ashley Solis. At the time of that call, she was just one of hundreds of phone calls seeking legal assistance that our firm receives weekly. Although she was initially rejected by our screening process, the staff insisted that I speak to her in person. I’m glad she was on. Once we took another look, and after contacting Watson’s original lawyer who did not respect Ashley and her profession and who arrogantly minimized the behavior of someone he referred to as an “asset”, I was convinced that our law firm should try to help her.
“As a result of Ashley’s lonely but courageous voice, many women who had reportedly experienced the same behavior were soon discouraged. I’m incredibly proud to represent them all. They have endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced withered cross-examination by skilled legal leaders and stood firm. They are all warriors. Today we have an important announcement on these issues, but it is important to point out that without Ashley Solis, the behavior of these women would probably have remained unimpeded. The truth is, without her courage and willingness to stand up, the NFL would not currently consider discipline; there would be no study of how teams can consciously or unconsciously enable certain behaviors; sports teams would not undergo their personnel screening processes; and this important story would not have dominated the sports headlines for more than a year. “
One of the latest lawsuits against Watson noted that Watson had previously offered each plaintiff $ 100,000 to settle their cases, but not everyone would accept that amount, “because of the aggressive confidentiality proposal proposed by Watson’s team.” In the same way, the terms of the settlements may never be revealed.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org