CLEVELAND — As Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson awaits a decision on a potential punishment from the NFL, his former team finds itself in the spotlight. On Friday, the Houston Texans reached a settlement with 30 women accusing Watson of sexual misconduct, the attorney for the women, Tony Buzbee has announced.
The settlements come less than a month after Buzbee first announced a lawsuit against the Texans alleging that the franchise enabled Watson's alleged behavior. In June, a report by The New York Times revealed new details regarding the allegations against Watson, who had been accused of sexual harassment and assault by several massage therapists in the Houston area during his time with the Texans.
According to the report, the Texans provided Watson with a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) for his massage sessions, as well as a room at The Houstonian hotel and club, where some of the sessions took place.
In a statement released on Friday, Buzbee said:
“Today all of the women who have made, or intended to make, claims against the Houston Texans organization have resolved their claims. 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.
"It takes an incredible amount of fortitude for a victim of sexual misconduct to come forward. It is even more difficult when the alleged wrongdoer is famous, rich or powerful. As I’ve said before, these cases started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman: Ashley Solis. Because of her willingness to speak out, soon others followed. I admire Ashley Solis and the other women who were courageous enough to make their voices heard. I hope their bravery serves as an example to others who have been subjected to similar conduct. Every story has a hero—in this story that hero is Ashley Solis and the other women who, despite the ridicule, criticism, and vitriol directed at them, endured.
"The four filed cases against Deshaun Watson will continue. We hope to try them all in the spring of next year. In the mean-time we will continue to do the important work to prepare for such.”
In a statement, the Texans said that their settlements did not serve as an admission of guilt. The team's statement reads:
"We were shocked and deeply saddened when we first learned of allegations against our then franchise quarterback in March 2021.
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."
As for Watson, the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback currently faces four lawsuits after settling 20 others with a 25th case having been dropped. While two Texas grand juries have declined to indict the Clemson product on criminal charges, he faces potential punishment from the NFL if it's found that he violated the league's Personal Conduct Policy.
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, told 3New's sister station, KHOU, that the Texans' settlements had no significance to his client's case.
Earlier this month, Watson and the NFL engaged in a three-day disciplinary hearing regarding his case. A decision from arbiter and former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson is expected in the coming weeks.