Sunday, February 5

There are 24 lawsuits being filed against Deshaun Watson.

There are 24 lawsuits being filed against Deshaun Watson.

Another woman has filed a lawsuit against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, increasing the number of civil suits accusing him of misconduct, including in some cases sexual assault, to 24.

A former massage therapist sued former president and vice chairman of software giant Oracle Corporation, Larry Ellison, Monday. Katy Williams says in her lawsuit that she had two encounters with Ellison in her apartment in August 2020. The first session was professional, her lawsuit says, but during the second he exposed himself and engaged in unwanted sexual conduct by masturbating in front of her and ejaculating on her. Williams says in the lawsuit she has suffered mental anguish, depression and anxiety, and difficulty sleeping, as well as professional damage as a result of this incident.

Watson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin issued a statement Tuesday, shortly after a new lawsuit was filed against the quarterback. “We are unable to respond to the new lawsuit at this time. Our legal team has not had time to investigate this new filing and had not heard her name until today. Deshaun continues to deny he did anything inappropriate with any of the plaintiffs,” Hardin’s statement read. Nia Smith, professionally licensed cosmetologist in Texas, alleges in a civil suit filed last week that she had three encounters with Watson starting in 2020, whose behavior, she said, “grew worse during every massage.”

Watson purportedly requested that the offended party rub inside his rear-end, uncovered his erect penis, attempted to get the offended party’s rump, contacted her between her legs and more than once mentioned sex in occurrences traversing three meetings, the claim asserts.

Smith says she was traumatized by her interactions with Watson and quit her job at the salon. Watson has denied the allegations of sexual assault and misconduct made against him, and has called Smith’s claim an “exaggeration.” In a statement to CNN, his lawyer said: “Deshaun Watson vehemently denies the allegations, just as he has since she first discussed them with members of our firm in March of last year. She repeated the allegations on social media in August and he denied them then,” Davis said in a statement. “The only thing new about her contentions is the embellishment making them more extreme than prior versions. Deshaun’s denial remains the same,” he continued.

Smith, who was 21 at the time of the alleged incidents and decided not to file a civil suit against Watson, changed her mind after watching a segment about the lawsuits last week on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel. Two of Watson’s accusers appeared on the show and expressed their shock and revulsion that he had just inked a record-breaking contract.

Watson signed a five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns in March. According to ESPN, it is the highest guaranteed amount of money given to an NFL player. “The things that are off the field right now that came up caught me by surprise because I never did anything that these people are alleging,” he said at a news conference introducing him to the Browns in March. In March, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, declined to charge Watson over allegations of harassment and sexual misconduct after determining there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime. The incidents were described as “stemming from massage therapy sessions,” according to a statement on the NFL website.

Meanwhile, according to CNN, a second grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas has declined to indict Watson after considering evidence in a criminal complaint alleging sexual misconduct during a massage therapy session. The NFL remains under investigation by the league’s officials and could suspend him if they find he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. NFL officials met with Watson for three days in May and have also requested one more day.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters last week that he couldn’t give a timeline for when the league would make a final decision regarding the status of suspended Ravens quarterback Ray Rice. He said that the NFL’s disciplinary officer would handle the case shortly, but wouldn’t speculate on when any decision would be made or what it might be. Watson still faces 23 civil complaints from his accusers, many of them alleging sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions.

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