A 23rd woman filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday in Harris County court against Deshaun Watson. It was one day after one of the original 22 women decided to not pursue her lawsuit against the Houston Texans quarterback. Forced to choose between pursuing her lawsuit with her name made public or withdrawing, she chose the latter. Her notice filed with the court said that “in light of privacy and security concerns” she would not be continuing her case “for now.” She can re-file her lawsuit if she chooses.
Wednesday’s filing means the number of lawsuits filed against Watson is still at 22. Aside from the one dropped lawsuit, the other lawsuits are going forward. The lawyer representing all 22 women, Tony Buzbee, also said in a recent interview with the Washington Post that three more of his clients have spoken with Houston police. When asked if they could confirm this, police refused to comment. In response to Defector’s public records request for any documents relating to criminal complaints about Watson, police sent Defector a letter denying the request citing, among other reasons, open and active investigations.
The 23rd woman is a freelance makeup artist. In her lawsuit, she said that Watson exposed himself to her, touched her with his penis, and groped her during two separate massage appointments at Watson’s home on Sept. 2 and Nov. 17, 2020. According to her lawsuit, Watson contacted her on Instagram (the 17th current lawsuit to assert this) and asked if she offered massages. She said yes and added that she makes her own oils. The lawsuit went on to say that Watson told her she did not need a uniform, and he told her to “dress comfortable in yoga pants or workout clothes” (the fifth current lawsuit to say Watson told the plaintiff what to wear). And the woman said that she reminded Watson that she was not a licensed massage therapist (the sixth current lawsuit to say that the plaintiff specifically told Watson she did not have massage training).
Upon arriving at his home, the woman said in her lawsuit that she went to the bathroom and, when she came out, Watson was standing there naked. The woman did not own a massage table, and Watson did not set one up. Instead, she said, Watson laid down on his stomach on a towel he placed on the floor. After an hour of massaging Watson’s upper thighs and glutes, per his request, Watson flipped over, exposed himself to her, and then repeatedly directed her to, “go closer to his genitals and anus,” according to the lawsuit. When her hand “grazed his penis,” Watson said, “Aw that felt good, do it again,” and he told her, “You can grab it if you want to,” per the lawsuit. The woman said no. Afterward, Watson paid her $160 via CashApp and then gave her “a touchy hug by grabbing her butt,” the lawsuit said.
Watson contacted the woman six times or more to book a second massage and she was “apprehensive anytime Watson requested a late night appointment,” according to the lawsuit. Watson would book, cancel, or reschedule several times. She agreed to a second session in November, also at Watson’s home. This time, the woman told Watson she would bring a massage table that she had bought “in an effort to be more professional and avoid any confusion as to the service,” her lawsuit said, but Watson told her not to bring it because he had one. But when she arrived, just like before, Watson was naked on a towel on the floor. The lawsuit said Watson “instructed her to grab his penis,” but she said no, and Watson responded, “You touched it last time.”
Per the lawsuit, “It felt like an eternity, trapped and he was not going to end the massage until she touched him like he prodded her to … Plaintiff was mentally beat, the pressure from Watson’s relentless instruction coercing her against her will left her powerless.” The woman complied with Watson’s request, she said, so that she could end the massage and get out of there. Per her lawsuit, she “placed her hand on his penis while he raised his hips masturbating himself.” Watson then tried to kiss her, grabbed her thighs and butt, asked her to take her pants off, and ejaculated onto her hand. As the woman was driving home, Watson sent her $200 via CashApp. “She left so abruptly that she did not even think of receiving payment,” the lawsuit said.
On Thursday, the Washington Post published an interview with Buzbee, in which he detailed the discussions between himself and Watson’s camp leading up the lawsuits being filed. Buzbee told the Post that the first plaintiff contacted his firm in late January. He then contacted Athletes First, the agency that represents Watson. But after his first few conversations with Athletes First general counsel Scott Gaffield, Buzbee said it was clear that they didn’t take the allegations seriously. Buzbee told the Post that he suggested the two sides enter confidential mediation, and Gaffield rejected that idea. Buzbee said he then offered to settle the case for $100,000, an offer that Gaffield also rejected.
“I said: ‘Let me tell you how this is going to go down: I’m going to file the case. The press is going to pick it up. It’s going to be a circus … He’s going to have to hire Rusty Hardin.’ And here we are,” Buzbee said. “This guy was so clueless about how things work.”
Buzbee told the Post that he tried to settle again, this time with Hardin in mid-March, after Buzbee had filed three lawsuits against Watson and had another four ready to go. According to Buzbee, Hardin asked to have until 5:00 p.m. the following day to talk with Watson and his management. At 7:00 p.m. the next day, Buzbee said, he got a text from Hardin informing him there would be no settlement. When asked for his side of the story, the Post reported that Hardin declined to get into specifics “citing a wave of legal filings he plans to make next week.”