Houston attorney Tony Buzbee posted and then deleted a confidential letter from the NFL's special counsel for investigations, Lisa Friel, that confirmed the league is investigating the sexual assault allegations against Deshaun Watson.
“I became aware of the lawsuits you filed yesterday, as well as the one you filed this morning, which contain various allegations of misconduct by Houston Texans player Deshaun Watson,” Friel wrote in the letter. “I am writing to let you know that the League has opened an investigation into these allegations and to request the cooperation of your clients in our investigation. Such cooperation would begin with engaging in Zoom interviews with myself and another League investigator at which, of course, you would be present. Please let me know at your earliest convenience if your clients are willing to assist us with our investigation of their allegations.”
An NFL spokesperson confirmed to Sports Illustrated that "the matter is under review of [the league's] personal conduct policy."
The Texans released a statement Thursday, stating that they were informed of the league's investigation and will "stay in close contact with the league as they do."
The Texans quarterback is facing three lawsuits from three different massage therapists, all alleging sexual misconduct. Buzbee posted on social media earlier on Thursday that nine women in total have hired his law firm to bring cases against Watson. Only three have been filed as of Thursday evening.
In the latest civil lawsuit, filed Wednesday, a woman stated that Watson forced his penis into her mouth during a massage appointment in December.
During the massage, the Texans quarterback directed the massage therapist to focus on his "inner thighs" and "inner glutes" and repeatedly mentioned that he's a professional football player. After the plaintiff asked him to flip onto his back, "Watson then began to coerce her to massage his inner groin." He next asked her to move to his abdominals.
"Watson got more aggressive, forcefully telling her to move her hand down to his pubic area. At that point, Watson was in control," the lawsuit reads. "Plaintiff started shaking at this point and Watson clearly knew she was afraid.
"...Watson kept coercing and intimidating Plaintiff and it was at this point that Watson coerced Plaintiff to move her mouth towards his penis, forcing Plaintiff to perform oral sex on him. Plaintiff did not consent to any of this conduct."
The first two lawsuits allege inappropriate sexual conduct during massages on two different occasions.
The second lawsuit says, "Watson's behavior is part of a disturbing pattern of preying on vulnerable women," and that Watson allegedly asked the woman to focus on the “inner part of his anus” and toward his “genitals.”
When the Texans quarterback flipped onto his back, the woman handed him a towel to cover up, which he refused. She became uncomfortable shortly after and ended the massage, asking to leave.
“Watson grabbed her hand and started to rub her arm, pulling her towards him, saying ‘It is okay, it is okay.’ Plaintiff pulled away,” the lawsuit claimed.
The first lawsuit was filed Tuesday, and it says it was "apparent that Watson wanted the massage for only one reason—sex."
"As she was trying to figure out how to extricate herself from the situation, Watson continued to aggressively attempt to steer the conversation to how Plaintiff was not rubbing him the way he wanted. Several times he specifically kept trying to direct her to his penis," the lawsuit says. "At one point, he purposely exposed the tip of his penis from under the towel." It also alleges he "purposefully touched the Plaintiff's hand" with the tip of his penis.
The Plaintiff, listed as "Jane Doe" in the case, quickly ended the session, and according to the lawsuit, Watson told her, "I know you have a career and reputation, and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours, just like I don't want anyone messing with mine."
Watson responded to the claims from Buzbee on social media Tuesday night, denying the allegations. Watson said Tuesday that he had not seen the complaint yet. The Texans quarterback will be represented by Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, according to the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson.