Editor’s 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
Deshaun Watson will not face criminal charges, and the Harris County prosecutor said on Friday this concludes the criminal proceedings against him.
A grand jury returned nine “no” bills on nine criminal complaints against the Texans quarterback. The decision comes the same day his civil deposition began, and as previously reported, Watson did invoke the Fifth Amendment. Rusty Hardin, Watson's attorney, released the following statement.
“We are delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did. Deshaun Watson did not commit any crimes and is not guilty of any offenses.
“Now that the criminal investigations have been completed, we are happy to move forward with the civil case depositions. We will vigorously defend those cases with every ounce we have.
“There were no crimes here but there is a plaintiffs’ attorney churning up negative press and churning up his clients hoping for a pay day. These cases have been the product of a lawyer maximizing his own personal publicity at the expense of others, including his own clients.
“It is time to let Deshaun move on.”
The 26-year-old still faces 22 active civil lawsuits that allege sexual harassment and assault. The graphic accounts range from Watson refusing to cover his genitals to forcing women to put his penis in their mouths.
According to Jenny Vrentas of The New York Times, the criminal complaints involve similar descriptions, including Watson’s ejaculating on them and either sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.
Although the criminal proceedings are done in Harris County for Watson pertaining to these complaints, there are still the civil lawsuits he will face. Friday’s proceedings included just the first two sessions, according to multiple reports.
On Feb. 21, a Harris County Judge ruled that Watson could be deposed in nine of the 22 active civil suits against him, meaning that information Watson discloses in Friday’s deposition could incriminate him. Watson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin attempted to delay the depositions, but the court denied his request and ruled that though Watson can be deposed for the civil suits, he can testify in the criminal complaints after April 1.
What this means for the quarterback’s status in the league is still up in the air. An NFL spokesperson told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, “We have been closely monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy.”
As of March 9, teams are reportedly still in the mix for Watson, with Rapoport calling the market for the quarterback “robust.” Along with the Panthers, Rapoport identified the Buccaneers and Seahawks as “among the teams” that could be interested in a trade for Watson.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
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