Thirty women who made or intended to make claims against the Houston Texans related to Deshaun Watson’s alleged sexual misconduct have reached confidential settlements with the organization, according to the women’s attorney, Tony Buzbee.
Watson, the former Texans quarterback, had been sued by 24 women who accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions in 2020 and early 2021. One of them sued the Texans last month, alleging the team enabled his behavior while he was a member of that team. That lawsuit is now settled, as are 29 others who had not filed suit against the Texans, Buzbee stated.
Watson, now the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, previously reached his own settlements to end 20 of the 24 lawsuits against him. That left four pending, which Buzbee said are still active and on course for trial next year.
Watson, 26, was never arrested or charged and denied wrongdoing, but a disciplinary officer for the NFL soon will decide whether he should be suspended for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The Texans issued a statement Friday from the family that owns the team: Janice, Hannah and Cal McNair.
“We were shocked and deeply saddened when we first learned of the allegations against our then franchise quarterback in March 2021,” the statement said. “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.”
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The one lawsuit that was filed against the Texans in these cases said the organization protected Watson when it knew or should have known about Watson’s behavior, which included unwanted touching during massages, according to the women. That lawsuit was filed by a woman who also sued Watson but has not settled her claims against him.
Her lawsuit against the Texans accused the team of negligence and failing to prevent his alleged conduct. It said Watson used Texans’ resources for his massage therapy, including rooms set up for him at the Houstonian Hotel, massage tables provided to him for private massage sessions and a nondisclosure agreement form provided to him from the head of Texans’ security, according to the lawsuit.
Settling the claims allows the Texans to avoid more lawsuits and the discovery of any more evidence that could link the team to his alleged conduct. Watson was not suspended last year but did not play for the Texans in 2021 after the first lawsuits were filed in March of that year. He was traded to the Browns in March of this year and given a record guaranteed contract of $230 million for five years.
“Today all of the women who have made, or intended to make, claims against the Houston Texans organization have resolved their claims,” Buzbee said in a statement Friday. “The terms of the settlements, to include the amounts paid each, are confidential. 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.
“As has been previously reported, only one of the thirty women who made allegations against the Texans filed a formal lawsuit. That particular lawsuit will be dismissed with prejudice as soon as the appropriate settlement paperwork is complete.”
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: [email protected]