24th woman files lawsuit against NFL QB Deshaun Watson

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A 24th woman has filed a civil lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct by Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is also awaiting possible sanction from the NFL.

The latest lawsuit was filed in Houston by attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the 24 women.

“Lost in the media frenzy surrounding Deshaun Watson is that these are twenty-four strong and courageous women who, despite ridicule, legal shenanigans and media scrutiny, continue to stand strong for what is right,” Buzbee said in a statement.

Watson has been accused by massage therapists of harassing, assaulting or touching them on dates when he was with the Houston Texans.

The latest lawsuit makes similar allegations as the woman, a massage therapist, accuses Watson of assaulting and harassing her during an August 2020 session at her apartment. The woman alleges that during the massage session, Watson exposed and masturbated and “provided no apology or explanation for his conduct.”

The woman quit being a massage therapist because of what happened to her and now suffers from depression and anxiety, according to the lawsuit.

Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lead attorney, said he could not immediately comment on the latest lawsuit.

“Our legal team did not have time to investigate this new case and had not heard his name until today. Deshaun continues to deny doing anything improper with any of plaintiffs,” Hardin said in a statement.

Hardin previously said Watson had consensual sex with three of the women and did not force any of his accusers to have sexual contact.

The first 22 lawsuits were filed in March and April 2021, with the latest two being filed since two of the women detailed their encounters with Watson during an interview on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

In March, two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.

But Watson could still be suspended if the NFL determines he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. The three-time Pro Bowler was interviewed by league investigators, who will present their findings to disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month the investigation was coming to an end.

League spokesman Brian McCarthy said there was no update on the investigation or a timeline.

“We will decline to comment as the matter remains under review,” he said in an email to The Associated Press.

Watson maintained his innocence, saying all sexual activity was consensual.

During his introductory press conference with the Browns in March, Watson denied any wrongdoing. “I have never assaulted, disrespected or harassed a woman in my life,” Watson said. “I’ve never done those things that people claim.”

Watson was traded from the Texans to Cleveland in March and then signed a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract with his new team despite his ongoing legal troubles.

Copyright 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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