Texans settle claims related to Watson allegations

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The Houston Texans have reached settlements with 30 women who were prepared to make claims against the NFL organization for its alleged role regarding allegations of inappropriate sexual misconduct against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson in massage sessions, the attorney for the women, Tony Buzbee, said in a statement Friday.

One of the 30 women already had filed a civil suit against the Texans in June, accusing the team of “enabling Watson’s behavior.” Buzbee said that case will be settled, as well. He did not disclose the terms of the 30 settlements.

“We were shocked and deeply saddened when we first learned of the allegations against our then franchise quarterback in March 2021,” Texans owners Janice McNair, Hannah and Cal McNair said in a statement Friday. “Although our organization did not have any knowledge of Deshaun Watson’s alleged misconduct, we have intentionally chosen to resolve this matter amicably. This is not an admission of any wrongdoing, but instead a clear stand against any form of sexual assault and misconduct.

“We hope that today’s resolution will provide some form of closure to the parties involved, our fans and the Houston community at large. As an organization, we will now turn our focus to the future and doing what we can to ensure respect for all.”

In June, Watson settled 20 of 24 lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct when he played for the Texans. He has been accused by 25 women in civil lawsuits of actions ranging from sexual assault to inappropriate behavior during massage sessions. One of those lawsuits was dropped after the judge ruled the petition had to be amended with the plaintiff’s name.

Buzbee did not reveal the identities of the other six women who were prepared to file claims against the Texans.

“I will have no further comment on the allegations or the Texans’ alleged role, other than to say that there is a marked contrast in the way in which the Texans addressed these allegations, and the way in which Watson’s team has done so,” Buzbee said in his statement Friday.

Two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. Watson has maintained his innocence. The Texans traded Watson to the Browns in March after the first grand jury announced it would not indict him.

NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association, is currently weighing whether Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Watson had a three-day hearing before Robinson in late June, and sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano that the league has been arguing for a suspension of at least a year.

If Robinson does issue a suspension, Watson will have the option to appeal the penalty to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, according to the league’s 2020 collective bargaining agreement.

The New York Times reported in June that Watson booked appointments with at least 66 different women over 17 months, from fall 2019 through spring 2021.

The list of 66 includes the 24 women who have filed lawsuits against Watson; a woman who sued Watson but then withdrew the complaint; two women who filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him; at least 15 therapists who issued statements of support for Watson at the request of his lawyers; at least four therapists contracted with the Texans; five women identified by the plaintiffs’ lawyers during the investigation for their lawsuits; and at least 15 other women whose appointments with Watson were confirmed through interviews and records reviewed by the Times.

The Times also reported that the nondisclosure agreement that Watson gave to some of the women to sign came from the Texans’ director of security, Brent Naccara. The Times reports that the NDA was in Watson’s locker at NRG Stadium days after a woman posted Watson’s phone number on Instagram.

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