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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.

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson faced the media on Tuesday, the day after news emerged that the total count of lawsuits against him alleging sexual misconduct may be rising to 26.

Watson was asked numerous times about the allegations that he sexually harassed and assaulted massage therapists, and at one point was asked directly why he should be believed over his accusers.

“I understand that question and I definitely respect it. … I’ve been honest and I’ve truthful about my stance, I never forced anyone, I never assaulted anyone.”

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.”

Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who is representing the 24 women, said that he expects his law firm to file a 25th lawsuit against the Browns quarterback “in due course,” as first reported by KPRC 2 in Houston Monday.

According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, the lawsuit was referred to Buzbee by an Atlanta-based attorney.

Buzbee also said that the firm has been contacted by a 26th woman who watched Ashley Solis and Kyla Hayes, two of the plaintiffs, give their first national TV interviews with HBO’s Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel and “was compelled to come forward,” per Jones.

Watson deflected many questions on Tuesday to his attorneys, saying that he needed to wait for “all the facts” to come out and “go with the process” with his legal team. Watson was asked whether a report from The New York Times that he had booked massages with 66 different women over a 17-month period was accurate, to which he replied, “I don’t think so, from what me and my attorneys went through.”

The question was in reference to a June 7 story from The New York Times’ Jenny Vrentas, which reported that Watson booked massage therapy sessions with at least 66 women over the span of 17 months. The report also found that a Houston-based spa and the Texans “enabled” his massage habit and that the franchise provided facilities and nondisclosure agreements for his sessions.

Despite the lawsuits, Watson signed a massive five-year contract worth a guaranteed $230 million with the Browns this offseason. During his introductory press conference with Cleveland in March, he denied assaulting, harassing or disrespecting any woman.

The league is currently investigating Watson, with commissioner Roger Goodell saying in late May that the league is “nearing the end of the investigation.” No timeline was provided on when the disciplinary officer would issue a ruling, but June 30 is considered to be an important date as it is the deadline for pretrial discovery in the suits.

Here's what has happened with the quarterback on and off the field since his last game with the Texans in 2021.

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