BEREA, Ohio — Deshaun Watson reiterated Tuesday that he is innocent of the numerous allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions that have been made against him. Yet while the Cleveland Browns quarterback said once again that he has no regrets about any of his actions, he admitted that he does regret the impact the allegations have had on the people around him.
“I do understand that I do have regrets as far as the impact that [it’s had] on the community and people outside of just myself,” Watson said. “And that includes my family. That includes this organization. That includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer to these questions. That includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns. That includes males, females, everyone across the, the world. That’s one thing I do regret is the impact that it’s triggered on so many people. It’s tough to have to deal with.”
Just in the past 15 days, two more civil lawsuits were filed against Watson, bringing the total number of active lawsuits against him alleging inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions to 24.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the women suing Watson, told WEWS-TV in Cleveland on Monday that two more women are planning to file lawsuits against the quarterback. Buzbee said that a lawyer from Atlanta referred one of the women and that the other woman reached out to him after watching the HBO “Real Sports” episode that aired a story on Watson.
The New York Times reported last week that Watson booked appointments with at least 66 different women over 17 months, from fall 2019 through spring 2021. The list of 66 comprises the 24 women who have filed lawsuits against Watson; a woman who sued Watson but then withdrew the complaint; two women who filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not sue him; at least 15 therapists who issued statements of support for Watson at the request of his lawyers; at least four therapists contracted with the Houston Texans; five women identified by the plaintiffs’ lawyers during the investigation for their lawsuits; and at least 15 other women whose appointments with Watson were confirmed through interviews and records reviewed by the Times.
A few of these additional women spoke publicly for the first time to the Times. One woman, who did not sue Watson or complain to the police, told the Times that he was persistent in his requests for sexual acts during their massage.
On March 25 during his introductory news conference, Watson said he had “no regrets” about any of his actions during any of the massage sessions. On Tuesday, Watson continued to deny any wrongdoing: “Like I said, I never assaulted anyone. I never harassed anyone. I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything.”
Although two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he violated its code of conduct and interviewed the quarterback in person last month as part of its investigation. At the league’s spring meeting, commissioner Roger Goodell said that he thought the NFL was nearing the end of its investigation but that he couldn’t give a timeline for when a ruling might be made.
“I can’t control that. I did everything they asked me to do. I answered every question truthfully that the NFL asked me,” Watson said. “I spent hours with the people they brought down. That’s all I can do, is be honest and tell them exactly what happened. They have a job, and so I have to respect that. And that’s what we want to do is cooperate. They have to make a decision that’s best for the league.”
Watson was asked whether he had considered filing countersuits for defamation because of the harm the lawsuits have done to his reputation. He said he has not been focused on that and is just keeping his focus on clearing his name.
“… I haven’t got into any of that. My biggest thing is just wanting to clear my name so I can get back, being in an environment that I’m most comfortable in and that’s being in the community and helping people and being that role model and leader and also being on the football field with my teammates and trying to win ballgames. So that’s something that I haven’t really been focused on. Just really clearing my name and just focusing on doing what’s right and being honest, and whoever I have to answer to, give them the true facts,” he said.
Asked how his legal situation is affecting him, Watson said, “it’s been tough” and said he’s trying to keep a balance with his mental health and social life.
“But I have a great family. I have a great legal team. And I have a great supporting cast here in this organization,” he said. “I go each and every day [focusing] on my task and being the best person I can be,” Watson said. “I can’t control what the other side is doing with the legal process. I just gotta continue to just focus on being the best Deshaun Watson I can be for this organization.”