Skip to main content

Deshaun Watson Timeline: What Has Happened Since First Lawsuit Filed

Editors’ note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org

Ashley Solis filed the first lawsuit against Deshaun Watson in March 2021.

The Browns quarterback has faced extensive legal troubles since then—24 civil lawsuits, each detailing graphic accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault that occurred during massage therapy sessions. The accounts range from Watson allegedly refusing to cover his genitals to the quarterback “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.” The latest suit detailed that Watson masturbated and ejaculated on the plaintiff without her consent.

On June 21, Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the 24 plaintiffs, announced that 20 of the 24 suits had been settled against Watson. Four lawsuits remain active, including Solis’s filing

Watson previously faced criminal complaints but is no longer facing criminal charges following two separate grand jury hearings. A Harris County grand jury returned “no” decisions on nine criminal complaints against Watson in March, and a county prosecutor said that the decision concluded criminal proceedings against him in that county. On March 24, a declined to charge Watson on a 10th complaint. 

The lawsuits launched an NFL investigation as well, which is still ongoing. The quarterback, through written and public statements by his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has denied any wrongdoing, referring to the civil lawsuits as a “money grab.”

Here is what has happened on and off the field since Watson's last NFL game.

Real-World Timeline

  • May 31, 2022: A 23rd civil lawsuit is filed against Watson. According to the documents, HBO’s segment on the quarterback, including Watson’s comment about having “no regrets,” changed the plaintiff’s mind about suing.
  • May 31, 2022: Hardin responds to the 23rd lawsuit, saying that “Watson vehemently denies the allegations, just as he has since she first discussed them with members of our firm in March of last year.”
  • June 1, 2022: Buzbee tells the Associated Press via text message that he will be “filing a 24th case soon.”
  • June 2, 2022: Within the 23rd suit, a footnote claims that last year before cases were filed, Watson offered each plaintiff $100,000, along with an “aggressive nondisclosure agreement.”
  • June 3, 2022: Hardin and Graham appear on an episode of the Audacy podcast Payne & Pendergast and reveal that Watson’s meetings with the league’s investigative team have concluded.
  • June 6, 2022: A 24th lawsuit is filed against Watson, marking the second suit in the span of a week.
  • June 6, 2022: Rusty Hardin releases a statement saying in part, “Our legal team has not had time to investigate this new filing and had not heard her name until today.”
  • June 7, 2022: The New York Times’ Jenny Vrentas reports that Watson booked massage therapy sessions with at least 66 women over the span of 17 months. The report also finds that a Houston-based spa and the Texans “enabled” his massage habit and that the franchise provided facilities and nondisclosure agreements for his sessions. It also found that the quarterback’s lawyer and the prosecutors at the district attorney’s office on the criminal cases had extensive contact leading up to the two grand juries. According to Vrentas, Hardin “began a regular dialogue” with the Harris County sex crimes prosecutor Johna Stallings in early 2022.
  • June 7, 2022: Buzbee responds to The Times’ claim that Watson’s lawyers were in contact with the district attorney’s office. Buzbee says while he also contacted the DA’s office, the office ”wouldn’t even talk to us!”
  • June 7, 2022: Watson seemingly replies to The Times’ article in an Instagram story posted Tuesday, quoting the song “Rich Off Pain.”
  • June 8, 2022: Browns coach Kevin Stefanski is asked in a press conference about Watson and says he’s “going to be respectful of the investigation, of the legal proceedings. I’m going to let that play out.”
  • June 8, 2022: It is reported that June 30 is an important date for the Watson cases. According to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, it is the deadline for pretrial discovery in the 24 active civil lawsuits the quarterback is facing.
  • June 8, 2022: Buzbee releases a statement that his law firm plans to add the Texans and “others” as defendants to the ongoing civil lawsuits, saying they “believe the Texans organization was well aware of Watson’s issues, but failed to act.”
  • June 13, 2022: It is reported that Buzbee is in the process of filing two more lawsuits against Watson, which would make the number of active civil suits against the quarterback 26. 
  • June 14, 2022: The quarterback meets with the press and fields questions regarding the lawsuits, including why he should be believed over the plaintiffs and if he had any regrets. He was also asked if he was willing to settle the lawsuits, to which he responded, “I just want to clear my name and let the facts and the legal procedures continue to play out.”
  • June 14, 2022: Buzbee responds to Watson’s press conference and says he had hoped Watson would show “some regret or remorse” for his behavior.
  • June 16, 2022: It is reported that the NFL Players Association is preparing for an “unprecedented” punishment for Watson and that they will “mobilize with an aggressive defense on Watson’s behalf.” The defense will reportedly include comparisons to the league’s handling of the cases of three prominent team owners—the Commanders’ Daniel Snyder, Patriots’ Robert Kraft and Cowboys’ Jerry Jones
  • June 17, 2022: The NFL is reportedly looking to argue that Watson should receive a “significant” suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
  • June 21, 2022: Watson reaches settlements in 20 of the 24 lawsuits against him, The Times’ Vrentas reports. Solis, the first plaintiff to file against Watson, was not one of the women who settled their cases. The MMQB’s Breer reports that he expects a decision from the NFL before training camp, which is scheduled to begin in mid to late July. 

When Did the Alleged Incidents Occur?

The civil lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson cite events dating back to March 30, 2020, and as recent as March 5, 2021, with sessions taking place in multiple states and venues.

Tony Buzbee, the plaintiffs’ attorney, also revealed during a press conference on March 19, 2021, that a Texans trainer referred Watson to one of the women he is representing, and Watson’s personal quarterback coach connected him with another one of the women.

Here is a timeline of the incidents alleged, and their locations, in the 23 lawsuits:

More Deshaun Watson Coverage: