Massage therapist files lawsuit against Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson
A female massage therapist has filed a civil lawsuit accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct, which he denies.
In the lawsuit, which was filed in Harris County District Court on Tuesday night, the unnamed massage therapist claims that Watson touched her hand with his penis on March 30 during a session at her home in the Houston area, where she operates her massage business. She is seeking "minimal compensatory damages."
The woman's lawyer, former Houston mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee, first announced the filing of the lawsuit on social media Tuesday night. He wrote on Instagram that it "isn’t about money" but rather "dignity and stopping behavior that should be stopped."
Watson later responded with a statement on Twitter, writing that he had not yet seen the complaint and only became aware of its existence through Buzbee's post. He wrote that he has "never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect."
"The plaintiff's lawyer claims that this isn't about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected," Watson wrote in the statement. "Unlike him, this isn't about money for me – it's about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that."
Online court records did not immediately list a lawyer for Watson. Buzbee did not reply to an email seeking comment. The NFL and the Texans said they are aware of the lawsuit but declined to comment on its contents.
"We take accusations of this nature that involve anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously," the team said in a statement. "We will await further information before making any additional statements on this incident."
The lawsuit alleges that Watson contacted the massage therapist, referred to as "Jane Doe," on Instagram last year and inquired about scheduling a massage. The two agreed to meet at her home on March 30, according to the complaint. (COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic about three weeks prior to that date, on March 11.)
After letting Watson in and leaving the room, the massage therapist returned to find that he had undressed and was laying on the massage table with a towel covering his groin area, according to the lawsuit. She alleges that he later exposed himself to her and purposely touched her hand with his penis.
According to the complaint, Watson later contacted the massage therapist to apologize for the incident and she did not respond. She claims she later received messages on Instagram from two other NFL players and believes they were referred to her by Watson.
It is unclear whether the massage therapist reported the incident to police, or plans to do so.
Watson, 25, led the NFL in passing yards last year and has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of the past three seasons. But his future in Houston is unclear, as ESPN reported in January that he has since asked the Texans to trade him to another team.
Team officials, meanwhile, have offered no public indication that they plan to trade their star quarterback. Texans coach David Culley told NFL.com last week that the Clemson product is "our starting quarterback as of right now."
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