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#pounditFriday, January 28, 2022

Legal Matters

Houston Police investigating Deshaun Watson after first criminal complaint filed

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson is facing 21 lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault. Now, for the first time, one complaint against him has been filed with the Houston Police Department.

HPD issued a statement on Friday saying that they are investigating a complaint about Watson that they received.

“Today, a complainant filed a report with the Houston Police Department concerning Deshaun Watson. As with any allegation, the Houston Police Department is now conducting an investigation and will not comment further during the investigative process,” the statement said.

Some of Watson’s supporters believed the lack of criminal complaints was a weakness in the case of the accusers. Now Watson could end up facing criminal charges rather than civil ones.

“We welcome this long overdue development. Now we will learn the identity of at least one accuser. We will fully cooperate with the Houston Police Department,” Watson’s attorney said in response in a statement sent to Larry Brown Sports.

Watson’s agent has publicly accused at least some of the alleged victims of lying for financial gain. The 25-year-old’s legal team also claims he was a victim of a blackmail attempt in at least one of the cases.

Deshaun Watson accused of sexual assault by two more women

Deshaun Watson

The sexual assault lawsuits against Deshaun Watson continue to pile up, as the Houston Texans quarterback is now facing formal allegations from two more women.

Two more sexual assault lawsuits were filed against Watson on Tuesday night, bringing the total to 21. One of the suits states that Watson has “unsent” messages on Instagram that he had previously sent to masseuses. That is consistent with a lawsuit that was filed on Sunday, which claimed Watson has been deleting old Instagram messages and trying to reach settlements with some of his alleged victims.

One of the new suits accuses Watson of making “obscene sexual gestures” while receiving massages, according to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. The other says the NFL star “purposely” exposed himself to a massage therapist, touched her with his penis, groped her, coerced her to perform oral sex on him and ejaculated on her.

The allegations in the new lawsuits are similar to the ones we have seen in the previous 19.

In a statement on Monday night, Watson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin said Watson has deleted old Instagram messages “like a lot of people” but claimed the quarterback has not deleted any since March 15th, which is the day before the first lawsuit was filed. Hardin also denied that Watson has reached out to any accusers in an attempt to settle.

One woman who is not suing Watson also came forward and made extremely troubling allegations this week.

Watson’s agent has publicly accused at least some of the alleged victims of lying for financial gain. The 25-year-old’s legal team also claims he was a victim of a blackmail attempt in at least one of the cases.

Vanessa Bryant trying to dismiss her mother Sofia’s lifetime support lawsuit

Vanessa Bryant

Vanessa Bryant is trying to get a lawsuit her mother Sofia Laine (nee Urbieta) filed against her dismissed.

Sofia Laine filed a lawsuit against the Bryants last year in which she contends she was promised lifetime financial support by late NBA icon Kobe Bryant (details here).

“Kobe Bryant repeatedly promised to take care of plaintiff financially for life in exchange for her services as a nanny and caretaker for the Bryants’ children,” the lawsuit said.

Vanessa Bryant’s legal team filed a 43-page motion in Orange County Superior Court to have the case dismissed. In the motion, they tried to use Sofia’s own past arguments as evidence to get the case dismissed.

In 2004, Sofia had a spousal support case with her ex-husband, Stephen Laine. Sofia argued then that she needed the spousal support because she was not receiving financial support from Vanessa and Kobe. In 2008, Stephen sought to have his payments lowered during the recession. Again, Sofia argued she was not receiving support from Vanessa and Kobe. Her argument worked, and the spousal support was not adjusted.

It’s been well over 10 years since then, so a lot could have changed. But it’s pretty rich that Sofia’s own past arguments to win financial battles in court are now being used against her for the same type of case. Keep in mind that Vanessa explicitly said she and Kobe financially supported Sophia for 20 years.

The drama between Vanessa and Sophia has been ongoing over the last year. Vanessa issued this scathing response to an interview her mom conducted last year.

Latest Deshaun Watson lawsuit claims QB is trying to reach settlements

Deshaun Watson

Three new civil lawsuits have been filed against Deshaun Watson, which means 19 women have now formally accused the Houston Texans quarterback of sexual assault. While Watson and his representatives have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, Watson may be trying to make some of the cases go away.

ESPN’s Sarah Barshop reviewed the latest suits that were filed, and one of them accuses Watson of trying to cover his tracks and work out settlements with his alleged victims. The lawsuit claims Watson has been deleting old Instagram messages and has reached out to women who have provided him massages in an attempt to reach settlements.

The allegations in the newest civil suits continue with the theme of Watson allegedly engaging in inappropriate behavior during massages. One woman says she gave Watson at least three massages and that he intentionally touched her with his penis, according to Samantha Ketterer of the Houston Chronicle. Another woman, a massage therapy student, says she gave Watson two massages at her mother’s house and that he purposely touched her with his penis and ejaculated on her.

One of the women says Watson texted her before the massage and said, “I even have a NDA I have therapist sign too.”

Tony Buzbee, the lawyer representing all of the alleged victims, said last week that Watson made masseuses sign non-disclosure agreements.

It would be noteworthy if Watson is trying to settle with some of the victims. While a settlement is not necessarily an admission of guilt, Watson’s agent has publicly accused at least some of the alleged victims of lying for financial gain.

Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, says the quarterback is a victim of a blackmail attempt in at least one of the cases. You can read more details about that here.

Vince McMahon argues Oliver Luck was fired for violating XFL character rules

Oliver Luck

Vince McMahon and Oliver Luck are still involved in their lawsuit that stemmed from Luck’s firing last year.

Luck was hired as the XFL commissioner in 2018 and served in that role until the league filed for bankruptcy last April.

McMahon’s Alpha Entertainment fired Luck for cause around the time the league shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Luck filed a lawsuit in response, alleging he was owed the remainder of his five-year, $35 million deal.

The suit has been ongoing in Connecticut. Luck argued that McMahon fired him for a sinister purpose, while McMahon says Luck was fired for cause.

According to XFL News Room, McMahon’s argument is that Luck was fired for cause for violating the league’s character rules. The XFL had character rules for players they would sign, and McMahon says Luck violated those by signing players who had poor character. The signing of Antonio Callaway is one that would not have been allowed based on character rules.

The character matter seems to be an excuse for McMahon, whose Alpha Entertainment was likely looking to minimize expenses. However, it will be up to the court to decide the case.

Deshaun Watson’s lawyer says one of alleged victims tried to blackmail QB

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson has had a total of 14 sexual assault lawsuits filed against him, but the Houston Texans star is maintaining his innocence. According to Watson’s lawyer, there is evidence of a blackmail attempt in at least one of the cases.

Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin issued a statement on Tuesday to media outlets including Larry Brown Sports addressing the allegations against the quarterback. Hardin criticized Tony Buzbee, the lawyer representing the alleged victims, for creating a “circus-like atmosphere” and using social media to turn the public against Watson. He also said opposing counsel has made it difficult to uncover the truth by not providing the names of the women who filed the lawsuits.

According to Hardin, one woman attempted to blackmail Watson in January by demanding a large sum of money to keep quiet about a sexual encounter that was said to be consensual.

“I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false. And in the one case in which we have been able to identify a plaintiff, we have strong evidence showing the allegation is false,” Hardin said. “In January of this year, a woman attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in exchange for her ‘indefinite silence’ about what she stated was a consensual encounter. It is our belief this woman is the plaintiff in (one of the lawsuits).”

Hardin provided a declaration from Bryan Burney, who says he has been Watson’s marketing manager for three years. Burney says he was contacted by a woman on Dec. 28, 2020, which is the same day one of the alleged victims said she met with Watson. Burney claims the woman demanded a “settlement” of $30,000 to remain quiet about an encounter she had with Watson that was consensual but both she and Watson would want to keep under wraps. Burney says he then received a call from a man purporting to be the woman’s business manager who made the same demands.

Hardin went on to say that his legal team has received “unsolicited comments” from massage therapists who have worked with Watson and describe him “as a gentleman and a model client who never engaged in inappropriate conduct.”

Watson’s agent sent a tweet last week accusing the alleged victims of lying for financial gain. One woman who claims to have given Watson several massages defended the Pro Bowler on social media.

Buzbee says there are a total of 24 women who had similar experiences with Watson, with 14 having filed lawsuits. The latest, which was filed on Monday night, included more troubling allegations against the quarterback.

Ex-49ers RB Jarryd Hayne found guilty of sexual assault

Jarryd Hayne

Rugby star-turned-NFL player Jarryd Hayne was found guilty of sexual assault in his home country of Australia on Monday.

Hayne was convicted of two counts of sexual intercourse without consent after he assaulted a 26-year-old woman at her home in 2018. A judge granted him $50,000 bail and called it “inevitable” that Hayne will end up in jail. Hayne said he plans to appeal the decision, according to Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News.

Hayne was arrested for sexual assault in November 2018. The victim said her original encounter with Hayne was consensual but he then sexually assaulted her at her home. She said she refused to consent to sex because Hayne had a taxi waiting outside her home.

“Like my heart dropped because I felt like he had only come there for one thing,” the victim said in court, via FOX Sports. “Like why would you get (the taxi driver) to wait outside for you for 20 minutes. I felt saddened because I felt like he must have only seen me in one type of way.”

The victim said Hayne sexually assaulted her despite her attempts to stop him and left her with a serious injury. Hayne maintained that the sex was consensual and that the injury surprised him as much as her. He admitted that the woman was not happy about the taxi waiting outside her home but said she did not say “stop” or “no” at any stage.

Hayne is facing up to 14 years in prison. He maintains his innocence.

“I’d rather go to jail knowing I spoke the truth than be a free man living a lie. I was straight up from the start,” Hayne told reporters after the conviction. “It’s unfortunate, it’s disappointing, but at the end of the day they’ve come to a decision, I respect that.”

Hayne is a well-known rugby star in Australia, and the 30-year-old signed with the San Francisco 49ers in March of 2015. He rushed for 52 yards on 17 carries and caught six passes for 27 yards during his career. He announced his retirement in May of 2016 and returned to rugby after citing his unwillingness to learn a new playbook when the Niners hired Chip Kelly.

Hayne was also previously sued by a woman who says he raped her in 2015. He was not charged in that case but reached a $100,000 settlement in the civil lawsuit in 2019.

New allegations surface in latest Deshaun Watson sexual assault lawsuits

Deshaun Watson

The total number of sexual assault lawsuits that have been filed against Deshaun Watson increased to nine on Monday, and the troubling allegations continue to pile up for the Houston Texans quarterback.

Two new civil lawsuits were filed against Watson on Monday morning, according to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. One of the suits stems from an alleged incident that took place earlier this month. In the other, Watson is accused of touching a masseuse with his penis and “trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.”

Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the alleged victims, said Friday that one of the incidents took place after Buzbee informed Watson’s legal team of the allegations. Buzbee said he expects at least 12 lawsuits to be filed and that at least 22 women claim to have had similar experiences with Watson related to massages.

It remains unclear if Houston Police will get involved, as they said last week that they had not heard from Buzbee about any of the lawsuits. All of the lawsuits are civil in nature, but Watson could still face disciplinary action from the NFL even if there is no police investigation.

Watson’s agent sent a tweet last week accusing the alleged victims of lying for financial gain. One woman who claims to have given Watson several massages defended the Pro Bowler on social media.

Houston Police says they have not heard from Tony Buzbee about Watson allegations

Deshaun Watson

Houston Police shared a statement on Twitter Friday regarding the Deshaun Watson situation.

On Tuesday, Texas attorney Tony Buzbee said he had filed a lawsuit on behalf of a woman claiming Watson went too far with her sexually. Since then, Buzbee has continued to provide updates on the case daily. On Friday, Buzbee said he had spoken with nearly two dozen women about potential complaints involving the Texans quarterback. The complaints stem from Watson’s alleged behavior during massages from various women.

During a press conference on Friday, Buzbee said he had been contacted by Houston Police about the situation. Buzbee said he would submit a packet of information to them.

In response, Houston Police said that they were unaware of any contact between the police and Buzbee. They said they were unaware of any incident reports being filed in their jurisdiction.

Buzbee said that when he reached out to Watson’s agent about the allegations, he was dismissed with “incredible arrogance.” Buzbee says that led him to take the situation public.

Deshaun Watson’s agent suggests women are lying

Deshaun Watson

A total of seven sexual assault lawsuits have been filed against Deshaun Watson, and the Houston Texans quarterback’s agent issued a response to the allegations on Friday.

Watson’s agent David Mulugheta sent a tweet shortly after four new lawsuits were filed against his client, bringing the total to seven. Mulugheta implied that the alleged victims are taking part in an organized money grab.

Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the women who are suing Watson, says there are a total of nine victims. All of the allegations are related to Watson receiving massages. Buzbee shared screenshots of text messages on social media Thursday that claim to show Watson apologizing for making one of the massage therapists feel uncomfortable. You can see the text messages here.

Mulugheta has had a busy offseason with Watson, as he is also trying to help the Pro Bowler force his way out of Houston. The agent ripped the Texans in a tweet earlier this offseason that he later deleted.

Watson adamantly denied the allegations after news of the first lawsuit surfaced on Tuesday and said he is looking forward to clearing his name.