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 report from The New York Times’ Jenny Vrentas revealed that a Houston-based spa and the Texans “enabled” Deshaun Watson’s massage habit, specifically that the franchise provided non-disclosure agreements and facilities for his sessions.
The bombshell report comes after two civil lawsuits were filed in the span of a week, the most recent one on Monday. In total, Watson is facing 24 active civil lawsuits filed by massage therapists, 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.”
Each filing details similar accounts. In the latest, a Houston-area massage therapist alleges two incidents of misconduct against Watson in August 2020, in which the quarterback masturbated and ejaculated on the plaintiff without her consent. Watson allegedly “offered no apology or explanation for his conduct.” In a footnote of the lawsuit, the filing states that “the incident with Deshaun Watson caused Plaintiff to quit massage therapy altogether.”
The 23rd active petition filed early last week not only detailed sexual misconduct but also asserts that A New U Salon Spa “provided” women for Watson. “Dionne Louis, the owner of the spa, facilitated massages for Watson and knew Watson was attempting to have sex with them,” it says. According to Cash App receipts and text messages included in the petition documents, “Watson paid Dionne Louis at least five thousand dollars for Louis’s ‘work.’”
The Times’ report detailed that Louis “became a resource for Watson, able to connect him with multiple women for massages.” According to Vrentas, Louis set up multiple appointments for the quarterback and some of the women were not licensed to perform massages in the state of Texas. One of these women told The Times that the quarterback “begged her for oral sex.”
This individual did not end up suing Watson; however, four A New U Salon Spa employees did, specifically mentioning Louis in their filings. Nia Smith, the plaintiff who filed the 23rd active lawsuit, worked at the spa.
Her filing detailed three separate incidences with Watson in 2020 and said his “behavior grew worse during every massage.” During the first massage, the quarterback “kept demanding Plaintiff to go inside of his anus” and by the third, “When Plaintiff tried to massage his legs, Watson became aggressive and demanded that she only massage his buttocks and made her massage that area. He repeatedly requested that Plaintiff have sex with him,” telling her that there was a condom in his bag, according to the petition.
Hardin previously released a statement saying the quarterback “vehemently denies the allegations.”
According to The Times, Smith posted CashApp receipts and text messages from Watson on her social media with the comment “I could really expose you,” plus an expletive. Vrentas reported that days later, Watson found a NDA in his Texans’ locker, later saying in a deposition that director of security, Brent Naccara, left it for him following Smith’s posts.
Watson reportedly proceeded to give copies of these NDAs for the women to sign when he received a massage. Per one lawsuit, he told a plaintiff that she had to sign in order to be paid. Vrentas wrote:
“It’s unclear whether the Texans knew how many massages Watson was getting or who was providing them. But their resources helped support his massage habit away from the team. Watson acknowledged in a deposition that the Texans arranged for him to have “a place” at The Houstonian. He used the fitness club, dined there and also set up massages in hotel rooms.”
Houston, though, said in a March 2021 statement that it “became aware of a civil lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson through a social media post.” It later added that “this is the first time we heard of the matter.”
Watson previously said that to his knowledge, the franchise was not aware of the massage therapy sessions at the hotel, per Vrentas. However, one woman said she was told the room where she gave the then-Texans quarterback a massage was registered to a member of the team’s training staff.
But that is not all that was disclosed in The Times’ latest report—the 26-year-old booked sessions with at least 66 different women for massage therapy sessions in the span of 17 months.
Although the civil lawsuits are still ongoing, Cleveland traded for Watson in March and signed him to a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $230 million. As far as the league investigation, commissioner Roger Goodell revealed last Tuesday that the league is “nearing the end of the investigation” into Watson. However, no timeline was provided on when a ruling would be issued by the disciplinary officer.
The quarterback also previously faced multiple criminal complaints; however, he is not facing charges following two separate grand jury hearings. A Harris County grand jury returned nine “no” decisions on nine criminal complaints against Watson in March. A Harris County prosecutor said that the decision concluded criminal proceedings against him in that county, and Watson was traded shortly afterward. A grand jury in Brazoria County declined to charge Watson on a 10th count on March 24.
During his introductory press conference with the Browns in March, Watson denied assaulting, harassing or disrespecting any woman.
More Deshaun Watson Coverage:
- Watson Plaintiff: ‘I’m Not a Sex Worker. I Am a Massage Therapist.’
- Watson Plaintiff Thinks ‘He’s Being Rewarded for Bad Behavior’ With New Contract
- When and for How Long Will Deshaun Watson Be Suspended?
- How Deshaun Watson and 22 Women Got Here
- After the Browns Signed Deshaun Watson, a Blast Radius of ’Emotions and Anger’