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Brazoria County Grand Jury Declines to Charge Deshaun Watson

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

A grand jury in Brazoria County in Texas decided not to charge Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson on Thursday, as first reported by The Houston Chronicle

The woman filing was one of the 10 who filed criminal complaints against the 26-year-old, and it comes after a grand jury in Harris County returned nine “no” bills on nine criminal complaints against Watson on March 11.

“After a careful and thorough review of the facts and evidence documented in the reports prepared by the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office and the Houston Police Department, as well as hearing testimony from witnesses, the Grand Jury for Brazoria County has declined to charge Deshaun Watson with any crimes,” the county's district attorney Tom Selleck said in a statement. “Accordingly, this matter is closed.”

Watson, 26, still faces 22 active civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct and assault. Graphic accounts of the alleged incidents include Watson refusing to cover his genitals to forcing women to put his penis in their mouths.

The civil depositions are ongoing, and they began on the same day the first grand jury convened. The quarterback reportedly invoked the Fifth Amendment during the first two depositions, but he reportedly answered questions under oath several days after the criminal proceedings concluded in Harris County.

Watson was traded to the Browns last week, and ESPN reported earlier on Thursday that a spokesperson for the franchise said it were made aware of a potential second grand jury as well as the hearing of evidence. 

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Cleveland previously said in statements that its investigation and research into Watson was “extensive,” including into the allegations he faces. 

“We are acutely aware and empathetic to the highly personal sentiments expressed about this decision,” Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in the statement. “Our team’s comprehensive evaluation process was of utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of his situation and the complex factors involved. We also understand there are still some legal proceedings that are ongoing and we will respect due process.”

The trade, though, was met with widespread backlash, and in wake of his trade, the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center received more than 1,700 donations as of Tuesday. The agency released a statement in response to the trade on Saturday, saying in part, “We understand the story surrounding Deshaun Watson joining the Cleveland Browns team is triggering for far too many of our friends and neighbors. For those who need additional support, please know Cleveland Rape Crisis Center is available to you 24/7/365.

“To the community we say, we see you. We hear your outrage. We feel it too. Every click. Every post and every tweet. Every donation sends a clear message.”

The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center also included resources “for everyone who wants to join in the fight against sexual violence,” adding, “Together, we can create a community that is healthy, safe and strong.” 

The NFL’s investigation into Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct policy is still ongoing, and he could still face suspension. As the civil deposition proceedings continue, here’s a recap of what has happened on and off the field since Watson’s last snap.

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