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.
As the NFL winds down its investigation of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, the league is reportedly going to argue that the quarterback should receive a “significant” suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, per The Washington Post.
A source close to the Watson’s side said that the NFL “probably” will go with a one-season suspension, per The Post. However, a different source close to the NFL’s side of the case said to be “careful” about a specific suspension length, but that the punishment will be “significant.”
Watson currently faces 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.”
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. During his introductory press conference with the Browns, Watson denied assaulting, harassing or disrespecting any woman.
“I understand that question and I definitely respect it,” Watson said. “I’ve been honest and I’ve truthful about my stance, I never forced anyone, I never assaulted anyone.”
Watson previously faced multiple criminal complaints; however, he is not facing criminal charges following two separate grand jury hearings. On March 11, a Harris County grand jury returned nine “no” decisions on nine criminal complaints against Watson. 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.
The New York Times’ Jenny Vrentas reported on June 7 that Watson booked massage therapy sessions with at least 66 women over the span of 17 months and found that a Houston-based spa and the Texans “enabled” his actions. The Times also reported that the franchise provided facilities and nondisclosure agreements for his sessions.
It’s unknown when the NFL will announce its findings from the investigation, although commissioner Roger Goodell did say the results would be released before the beginning of the 2022 season.
More Deshaun Watson Coverage:
- Watson Plaintiff: ‘I’m Not a Sex Worker. I Am a Massage Therapist.’
- Houston PD Detective Testified She Believes Watson Committed Crimes, per Report
- The Browns Will Never Live Down the Watson Trade
- What You Haven’t Heard—But Need to Know—About the Deshaun Watson Cases
- After the Browns Signed Deshaun Watson, a Blast Radius of ’Emotions and Anger’
- When Deshaun Watson Says He ’Never Disrespected’ a Woman, Do the Cleveland Browns Believe Him?