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#pounditSaturday, September 24, 2022

Deshaun Watson

Rusty Hardin issues statement about baffling radio comment

Rusty Hardin near the media

Oct 8, 2014; Conroe, TX, USA; The attorney Rusty Hardin at the Montgomery county courthouse for the arraignment of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (not pictured). Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin issued a statement on Friday after drawing negative attention for his “happy endings” comment in a radio interview earlier in the day.

Hardin, who is Watson’s lead attorney defending him against allegations of sexual misconduct from 23 women, joined Seth Payne and Sean Pendergast on Sports Radio 610 in Houston Friday. Hardin talked about Watson’s case and made some baffling comments.

Hardin said he wanted to remind those listening that people getting happy endings at the end of massages are not engaging in unlawful activity (full comments here).

Hardin said that unless a payment is exchanged for the sexual favor, then the act is not breaking a law, so long as the activity is consensual. Watson’s legal team has said any sexual activity Watson had with his masseuses after massages was consensual.

The obvious problem is that those who are paying for a massage that includes a sexual favor at the end are breaking the law. So if Watson — or anyone — were paying for massages with the expectation of receiving sexual favors, then he would have been engaging in illegal activity.

Hardin drew so much negative attention over his comments that he issued a statement later on Friday.

“Deshaun Watson did nothing wrong,” said a statement sent to Larry Brown Sports and other outlets. “And as two grand juries have made clear, Deshaun did nothing illegal. Deshaun has always acknowledged consensual sexual activity with three of the plaintiff massage therapists after massages. And Deshaun has repeatedly sworn under oath that he did not force any of his accusers to have sexual contact.

“On a Houston radio show interview today, I mentioned that a massage that has a ‘happy ending’ is not illegal, meaning it is not illegal for someone to have consensual sex with a therapist after a massage unless the sex is for pay. Deshaun did not pay anyone for sex. I was using the term hypothetically and not describing Deshaun’s case.

“I have reiterated to others it’s not ok to do anything that a woman does not agree to do. These women have alleged assault in their pleadings. I was speaking in a hypothetical situation. If there is a consensual sexual encounter after a massage, that is not a crime nor the basis for a civil lawsuit. I was not talking about what Deshaun did or did not do or expected or did not expect.”

Watson was investigated by two grand juries in Texas, which both declined to indict him. The Cleveland Browns quarterback is facing 23 lawsuits. We recently learned the price for which he tried to settle the suits.

Deshaun Watson’s lawyer stresses that ‘happy endings’ are not a crime

Deshaun Watson at the Pro Bowl

Jan 23, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson (4) during AFC practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson has denied all of the sexual assault allegations that have been made against him in the past year. The Cleveland Browns star did admit to having consensual sexual encounters with some of the nearly two dozen women who are suing him, however. Watson’s lawyer wants to remind everyone that engaging in such acts is not a crime — even in a massage parlor.

Rusty Hardin, the lead attorney representing Watson, spoke about the 23 lawsuits that have been filed against Watson during a Friday appearance on SportsRadio 610. He took some time to stress that massages that feature a “happy ending” are not a crime.

“I don’t know how many men that are out there now that have had a massage that perhaps, occasionally, there was happy ending. Maybe there’s nobody in your listening audience that that has ever happened to. I do want to point out that if it has happened, it is not a crime,” Hardin said. “Unless you are paying somebody extra (money) to give you some type of sexual activity, it’s not a crime. Doing something or saying something or being a way that makes you uncomfortable is not a crime. We had two grand juries find that, and nobody seems to want to listen.”

You can hear the comments below:

Watson’s legal team has admitted from the beginning that the star quarterback engaged in consensual sex acts with some of the now-23 women who have accused Watson of sexual assault. That admission came after one of the alleged victims spoke out publicly.

During a recent pre-trial deposition, Watson said one of his massage sessions ended when one of the accusers began to cry. He admitted to apologizing to her, but only for making her feel uncomfortable in some way. Watson claimed he did not know why she was upset.

As Hardin noted, two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson. He is still facing 23 lawsuits, and we learned on Friday that he tried to settle them all last year for a very specific reason.

Deshaun Watson tried to settle with all accusers to facilitate trade to 1 team

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson has maintained his innocence in the wake of nearly two dozen women accusing him of sexual assault, and some of the civil lawsuits that were filed against the star quarterback could be headed to trial. At one point, however, Watson made an attempt to settle all of them.

The Miami Dolphins were one of the teams that explored a trade for Watson prior to the deadline last season. There were reports that they were willing to meet the Houston Texans’ asking price as long as Watson settled with all of his accusers, of which there were 22 at the time. That did not happen.

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, told SportsRadio 610’s Sean Pendergast and Seth Payne on Friday that Watson, who had a full no-trade clause, wanted to play for the Dolphins. However, only 20 of the 22 alleged victims agreed to settle.

Payne followed up by asking why the 20 of 22 cases were not settled in the end. Hardin said the only reason Watson was going to settle was to facilitate a trade to Miami.

Tony Buzbee, the attorney who represents all of the women who are suing Watson, said last year that the Dolphins wanted at least one accuser to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Hardin claims Buzbee did not want any confidentiality agreements, either, because Buzbee did not want the public knowing the financial terms of the settlements.

We recently got a better idea of how much money Watson offered each of the women.

If Hardin is telling the truth, Watson must have really wanted to play in Miami.

Latest Deshaun Watson lawsuit includes troubling new allegation

Deshaun Watson at the Pro Bowl

Jan 23, 2020; Kissimmee, Florida, USA; Houston Texans quarterback DeShaun Watson (4) during AFC practice at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson is facing sexual assault allegations from a 23rd different woman after a new lawsuit was filed on Tuesday. The latest accuser shared a similar story to those before her, but there is also a troubling new claim that the NFL may have to investigate.

In the newest lawsuit, a woman accuses Watson of making repeated, aggressive sexual advances toward her over three different massage sessions. She said the Cleveland Browns star exposed his genitals, tried to grab her genitals and tried to have her touch him inappropriately.

The suit also alleges that Watson worked with the owner of a spa, who “facilitated massages for Watson and knew Watson was attempting to have sex with them.” Watson is said to have paid the owner $5,000.

It is unclear if the NFL was aware of that allegation before. Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said the league is nearing the end of its investigation into the sexual assault claims. If that is new information, the league could still take it into consideration.

Tony Buzbee, the attorney who represents the 23 women who are suing Watson, said he expects a 24th lawsuit to be filed in the near future. Watson has reportedly offered to settle with some or all of the accusers. We learned more about the amount he supposedly offered when the latest lawsuit was filed.

Price Deshaun Watson offered to settle his lawsuits revealed

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson has maintained that he did nothing wrong despite nearly two dozen women accusing him of sexual assault, but the Cleveland Browns star has still tried to settle with some of his accusers. We now have a better idea of what he offered them to drop their lawsuits.

Another lawsuit was filed against Watson on Tuesday, which makes 23 total. One of the footnotes in the latest suit mentions how Watson’s camp offered each of the plaintiffs $100,000 to settle.

That is consistent with what we heard earlier this year. One publication obtained a copy of a settlement offer that Watson supposedly sent to one of the women who is suing him. Watson offered $100,000, with the proposed agreement saying the alleged victim would have to adhere to a strict confidentiality agreement.

Two grand juries in Texas have declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson. The NFL is now investigating the allegations to determine if the star quarterback will face disciplinary action. The civil lawsuits could eventually be tried in front of juries if there are no settlements.

Teams reluctant to deal with Browns because of Deshaun Watson decision?

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns have not been able to trade Baker Mayfield, and the most obvious reason for that is they have no leverage after they acquired Deshaun Watson in a blockbuster deal. It may be a bit more complicated, however.

Watson waived his no-trade clause for the Browns after they agreed to sign him to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract. Other NFL team owners were not happy about it, as Cleveland may have drastically altered the quarterback market and done so with a player who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women.

Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com recently wondered if the Watson deal could negatively impact the Browns’ ability to complete other trades. He noted how NFL teams have worked hard to stay away from the types of fully guaranteed contracts that other sports have. Deals of that nature make managing the salary cap extremely difficult. Now that the Browns broke an unwritten rule, other teams may not want to play nice with them.

“NFL owners are a club. They sometimes do favors for each other in deals,” Pluto wrote. “Other times, they make it hard for teams/owners they don’t like.”

We know there are some teams that have interest in Mayfield. Those teams want the Browns to eat a large portion of Mayfield’s $18.8 million salary, which is not a surprise. However, if some owners and executives have negative feelings toward Cleveland because of the Watson deal, they may be even less willing to bend in negotiations. The same could be true when the Browns try to trade away or acquire players in the future.

Browns player got big gift from Deshaun Watson for jersey number

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson showed his appreciation for teammate Anthony Walker’s willingness to give up his jersey number, and the quarterback did so in a big way.

Walker wore No. 4 last season, which is Watson’s preferred number. The linebacker decided to voluntarily give up the number for Watson after the Browns traded for the quarterback, and asked nothing from Watson in return.

Watson came through anyway. While Walker was speaking to the media Wednesday, Watson crashed the press conference and handed Walker a Rolex box.

Walker did say he wasn’t going to open the box in front of the media, but it’s tough to imagine Watson pranking a teammate like that publicly.

Based on this, Cleveland’s new quarterback is going to be a popular man in the locker room. He probably already is among the offense after what he decided to do for them.

Roger Goodell provides notable update on Deshaun Watson situation

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Goodell on Tuesday provided a notable update on the Deshaun Watson situation.

Goodell spoke with the media at the Spring League Meeting in Atlanta, Ga. on Tuesday. The NFL commissioner said that the league was nearing the end of its investigation regarding the Cleveland Browns quarterback.

“I can’t give you a timeline. I think we’re nearing the end of the investigative period. Then it will be handled by our disciplinary officer,” Goodell said.

Watson is facing allegations of improper conduct during massages/while seeking massages from over 20 women. He was investigated by two separate grand juries in Texas but not criminally charged. The NFL is conducting a separate investigation.

According to terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the league has the power to discipline a player for conduct despite the absence of criminal charges. Watson could still very well be punished by the NFL and suspended over the allegations. Watson’s attorney recently hinted that they expect to hear about Watson’s punishment before too long. Goodell’s comments seem to fit that timeline.

Deshaun Watson’s lawyer hints at NFL disciplinary timeline

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Possible NFL discipline continues to loom over Deshaun Watson, but the Cleveland Browns quarterback’s attorney believes the final decision will come sooner rather than later.

Rusty Hardin believes the NFL will sit down with Watson at least one more time before rendering a verdict. However, the attorney believes the NFL will make a final decision within the next two months.

“We should know what their position is initially sometime in June, and then everybody will figure out if there’s going to be a hearing about it or can people work things out, or whatever,” Hardin told Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com Friday. “The only thing that’s certain is that they want to try to get everything done this summer — and earlier than later in the summer. Past that, we don’t really have any firm dates or possibilities.”

The NFL’s stance makes sense. Given the allegations against Watson, they will not want to head into the regular season with an unfinished investigation lingering.

For now, Watson is essentially proceeding as normal. Expect that to continue until he hears more from the league, which should be around the start of training camp if his attorney is correct.

Deshaun Watson admits one accuser cried after massage

Deshaun Watson at a press conference

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks with the media during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson testified recently in one of the pre-trial depositions for his sexual assault lawsuits, and the Cleveland Browns quarterback made what some people felt was a troubling admission.

Ashley Solis, the first massage therapist to go public with a claim against Watson, said Watson intentionally touched her with his penis during a session on March 30, 2020. Solis said last year and during her deposition that Watson’s actions caused her to feel frightened and cry. Watson admitted during his deposition that his massage session with Solis ended with her crying and that he later apologized via text message.

Watson wrote in a text message to Solis that he was “sorry about you feeling uncomfortable.” He also said “never were the intentions.” During his deposition, Watson said he apologized because Solis was obviously bothered by something, though he claims he did not know what.

“Yes, because she was teary-eyed. And I was trying to figure out what was going on,” Watson said, via a transcript that was provided to USA Today’s Brent Schrotenboer. “So, I assumed that she was uncomfortable in whatever reason. And we talked about working in the future. And so, I said, ‘We can work in the future. Just let me know.’ And then I sent my apologies as whatever reason she was teary-eyed for.”

Watson has been accused of sexual assault by 22 women. He previously admitted to having sexual encounters with some of them but said everything was consensual.

Though two grand juries have declined to indict Watson, he could still face disciplinary action from the NFL. He may also stand trial in front of as many as 22 different juries if there are no settlements in the civil lawsuits.

H/T Pro Football Talk