DeShaun Watson, the embattled quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, has reportedly reached settlements with 20 of the 24 women who have accused the 26-year-old of sexual misconduct during his frequent massage sessions that occurred from 2020 into 2021.
Plaintiff lawyer Tony Buzbee confirmed the win in a statement: “Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled. We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”
Buzbee went on to sing the praises of one of the accusers who wasn’t able to have her case amicably settled along with three others. “The case against Deshaun Watson started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis. Even though she was originally turned away by our screening process, my staff insisted that I personally speak with her. I’m glad she persisted.”
As a result of Ashley’s lone but brave voice, soon many women who had allegedly experienced the same conduct were emboldened to step forward,” he continued. “I am incredibly proud to represent them all. They have endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced withering cross examination by skilled litigators and stood firm. They are warriors all.”
When the details of Watson’s alleged sexual misconduct first became public, the NFL star’s legal team flat out denied the allegations and said all 22 accusers (the count at the time) were lying. Rusty Hardin, a lawyer for the team at the time the news broke, painstakingly picked apart testimonies to invalidate the words of each accuser, accusing them of being “slanderous” and purposely “misleading” because they still went back to work with Watson as masseurs after the alleged inappropriate behavior took place.
From USA Today:
Hardin had said the women were lying and that Buzbee viewed Watson as a “payday” after the women accused Watson of improper behavior, including exposing himself, causing his genitals to touch them and in some cases coercing sex.
It’s important to note that DeShaun Watson was never arrested or even charged for sexual misconduct, and two grand juries declined to indict him. He and his attorneys have consistently denied the allegations, and it’s hard to see the NFL holding a star player accountable—especially considering his whopping $230 million contract for five years. It’s looking like he’s going to be able to use that money to just make this whole thing go away.
In the meantime, the pending four cases will not be allowed to gather dust: Buzbee isn’t done serving on behalf of those who’ve waited too long. “As stated, Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story,” he said. “Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue. I look forward to trying those cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court’s schedule.”