Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is currently facing 22 lawsuits from individuals accusing him of varying degrees of sexual misconduct, mainly revolving around his treatment of masseurs throughout his career. On Monday, Rusty Hardin, the lawyer representing Watson, filed an answer to all of these accusations with one simple blanket response: they’re all lying. Hardin also named 16 of the plaintiffs in his response, though only two of them released their names publicly.
Hardin highlighting small details in each accuser’s story, meant to discredit the women and frame these lawsuits as a coordinated smear campaign against Watson. Hardin called the accusations “misleading and slanderous” adding that some women, “willingly worked or offered to work with Mr. Watson after their alleged incidents,” something he argues wouldn’t have happened if they’ve been assaulted or harassed. Hardin also alleges that five of the 22 plaintiffs had “told others they wanted to get money” from Watson.
“It was not until the plaintiffs saw an opportunity for a money grab that they changed their stories to convert therapy sessions they bragged about to friends and family to something much more nefarious,” Hardin wrote.
The response, vile as it is, is not surprising. Indeed it’s cribbed from the playbook of sexual harassment defense. The quickest way to minimize the experiences of a sexual assault or harassment victim is to belittle them, accuse them of ulterior motives, and turn the alleged assaulter into the victim instead. Hardin even claimed that some of the plaintiffs must have lied about the “trauma and resulting harm” they endured, since women who are rightfully traumatized stop living entirely, lest they seem unacceptable to the general public.
As Hardin and Watson continue to paint accusers as money-hungry harpies, the NFL is continuing its own personal investigation into Watson but has not yet suspended him for the upcoming season. The league, itself a money-hungry harpy, has been careful to limit any conversations about Watson and the lawsuits wherein even the Texans’ head coach is obfuscating questions about Watson hitting the field better than a seasoned politician.