Browns’ Deshaun Watson addresses new lawsuits, potential NFL suspension: ‘I just want to clear my name’

Deshaun Watson journalists addressed Tuesday marked the first time in more than two months, and the Browns quarterback once again proclaimed his innocence in the face of 24 (and apparently soon to be 26) civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault or misconduct. While the former Texans star declined to elaborate on certain details of his case, referring some questions to his legal team, he expressed regret for the impact his situation has had on the community while reiterating the desire to “clear my name”.

“I was honest and told the truth,” Watson said. “I’ve never forced anyone, I’ve never assaulted anyone. I’ve said that from the start and will continue until all the facts are known.”

Twenty-four different women have publicly sued the QB for his actions as an alleged “serial sexual predator”, with The New York Times recently reporting that Watson courted at least 66 women over the course of 17 months for private massage therapy sessions. QB attorney Rusty Hardin claimed consensual activity had occurred on some occasions, while Watson continued to deny any wrongdoing during his press conference on Tuesday, ignoring a question about the 25th and 26th accusers who would prepare to come forward: “I can’t control what the other side does with the judicial process.”

“My biggest thing is just wanting to clear my name,” he said. “I have never assaulted, disrespected or harassed anyone. But at the same time, I understand that I have regrets about the impact it had on the community and people outside of me. , and that includes my family, that includes this organization, which includes my teammates in this locker room who have to answer these questions, which includes the Cleveland Browns fanbase, which includes men, women, everyone across the world. It’s something I regret, the impact it’s having on so many people, and it’s hard to deal with.”

Asked about a recent report that his legal team once offered $100,000 to each of his accusers to settle the lawsuits, Watson neither confirmed nor denied the suggestion, referring to a “process (which was) underway with another organization in November … before I became a Cleveland Brown”. (Watson was still employed by the Texans, but wasn’t playing for them in November.) The QB also declined to definitively address the issue. Time report when asked if he had actually used 66 different women for massages during his Texas career: “I don’t think so, but that’s more of a legal matter that I can’t go into detail about. .”

Through all of the charges, Watson added, the two teammates, Browns staffers and his legal team have “joined with me and supported me.” He hinted that he was following advice to deal with the mental aspects of his case, while noting that he was ready to answer any questions his teammates might have about his situation.

Later Tuesday, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the 24 women with pending lawsuits against Watson, released a statement in response to Watson’s press conference:

“We were sent the video from the Watson press conference,” Buzbee said, via ESPN.com. “We appreciate the Cleveland market and their strong support for their new quarterback, Deshaun Watson. But: given the volume of credible cases filed, the sworn testimony of the lead detective, the undisputed facts and the heartbreak , the pain and devastation Watson has caused, we feel it would be appropriate to see Deshaun Watson express regret or remorse in the way he treated these women, some of whom have taken legal action and many others have not yet. Attending some sort of council would at least be a step forward. We have nothing more to say on the matter.”

As for potential NFL discipline, Watson seemed resigned to the possibility of a suspension, which is widely expected despite two Texas grand juries refusing to indict the QB on criminal charges. He told reporters Tuesday he had ‘answered all questions honestly’ in meetings with NFL investigators, but admitted ‘they have to make a decision (that’s) the best for the league’ and later said “you have to respect” whatever decision they make regarding his status entering 2022.

The chestnuts are would be firmly committed to Watson despite the flurry of allegations against him. As part of their polarizing blockbuster trade to acquire him from Houston in March, when they shipped three first-round picks along with other assets to the Texans, Cleveland signed Watson to a record five-year, $230 contract. million dollars fully guaranteed.

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