Houston Texans' Deshaun Watson describes women's lawsuits as 'money grab'

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has struck back at the women accusing him of sexual misconduct, stating in court documents that they’re lying and using sexual innuendo to “bolster their claims for money.”

Watson’s version of events came Monday in his first official answer to the 22 lawsuits that have been filed against him since March 16. Many of the women say he exposed himself and caused them to touch his genitals during massage sessions after contacting them on Instagram for their services.

"The answer to the question of whether we are saying that all 22 plaintiffs are lying about the allegations of sexual misconduct by Mr. Watson is a resounding yes," Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement Monday.

Hardin’s legal team said it filed one overall response to each of the 22 cases in Harris County, Texas. Hardin previously also said there were "sometimes consensual" encounters between Watson and the women.

“It was not until the plaintiffs saw an opportunity for a money grab that they changed their stories to convert therapy sessions they bragged about to friends and family to something much more nefarious,” Watson's answer states. “Innocent questions about whether the therapists were comfortable with the therapy Mr. Watson sought evolved into sexual inuendo (sic) that the plaintiffs used to bolster their claims for money.”

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has had 22 lawsuits filed against him since March 16.

As an example, Watson states he asked the first plaintiff, Ashley Solis, if she was comfortable working on certain areas his organization is “making him get worked on.”

“That same question, however, posed to a therapist not seeking to exploit Mr. Watson, was perceived as it was intended: a legitimate therapeutic inquiry,” Watson’s answer states. “Ms. Solis’s skewed perception of Mr. Watson’s legitimate and innocent query became a prototype for the assembly line of similar allegations in subsequent lawsuits.”

The women are seeking compensatory damages in their lawsuits and all have attached their names to their allegations after most initially filed suit under the pseudonym Jane Doe. Their attorney in Houston, Tony Buzbee, fired back at Hardin with a statement Monday.

"As fully anticipated and despite his lawyer’s previous statements, Deshaun Watson’s only defense is to call these brave women liars," the statement said. "The weak and vague allegations made in Defendant’s response are demonstrably false."

Since learning the names of the women, Hardin said his legal team has “uncovered evidence that numerous allegations in this onslaught of cases are simply not true.”

For example, the document states that eight plaintiffs “bragged about, praised, and were excited about massaging Mr. Watson” after massage sessions; seven plaintiffs “willingly worked or offered to work" with him after their alleged incidents and three lied about their alleged trauma. The document also states five plaintiffs told others they wanted to get money out of Watson, and five plaintiffs have “scrubbed or entirely deleted their social media accounts" to get rid of evidence that was "inconsistent with the image they portray through their petitions."

Watson's answer notes that only two of the 22 lawsuits allege that Watson forced any type of sexual activity. Most of the rest accuse him of "civil assault" and intentional infliction of emotional distress based on what they said he did during the massage sessions.

Overall, 23 women filed lawsuits against Watson, including one who withdrew her case last week, citing privacy and security concerns. That leaves 22 active cases, all working with Buzbee's firm.

"Watson can’t deny he sought out an unusually high number of women for massages on Instagram," Buzbee's statement said Monday. "He doesn’t deny he insisted on being nude or nearly nude; he can’t deny the massage sessions occurred; he can’t deny he wanted more than a “massage”; and he hasn’t credibly denied that something bad happened during the session—he instead claims that any sexual acts were consensual. Of course his definition of “consent” doesn’t comport with that of everyone else."

Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: bschrotenb@usatoday.com