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Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Received Over 2,300 Donations After Browns Signed Deshaun Watson

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

The Cleveland Rape Crisis Center received 2,300 donations in the month following the Browns’ trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson

Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits filed by massage therapists, each describing sexual misconduct.

The CRCC’s chief external affairs officer, Sarah Trimble, told Sports Illustrated’s Alex Prewitt that the donations totaled close to $125,000. About a third of those donations were made for exactly $22, a show of support for the 22 women suing Watson. A third of the donors specifically cited Watson and/or the Browns as their reason for contributing as well. 

“The #MeToo movement in 2017, that was in the headlines for weeks,” Trimble told Sports Illustrated. “And while we experienced a substantial increase in calls to our hotline, it did not manifest in the same way that it did here.”

Roughly 50 people marked their contributions in honor of Baker Mayfield, the quarterback Watson is replacing in Cleveland. The CRCC also recorded a huge influx in call volume after the trade. The weekend of the trade, it received 106 calls to its hotline, which is a 152% increase from a usual weekend. 

“It was very triggering to survivors in our community,” Trimble said.

The lawsuits against Watson detail graphic accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault that occurred during massage therapy sessions. The accounts range from Watson 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.”

Waston was officially introduced with the Browns on March 25 after signing a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $230 million. He has denied all allegations against him.