HOUSTON — In what amounts to the most substantial legal response to date from Deshaun Watson regarding 22 civil lawsuits filed against him, the NFL quarterback’s attorney said Monday that all 22 women accusing Watson of sexual misconduct are lying.
“Today we answered the lawsuits filed against our client Deshaun Watson,” Houston attorney Rusty Hardin said in a statement about the new legal filing. “Mr. Watson has been adamant that he did not engage in any improper conduct and we strongly believe him. Therefore, 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.”
The counter-accusation comes on the heels of Watson’s 22 accusers all complying with judicial orders last week to reveal their identities. That sweeping change in the cases finally compelled the first legal counterpunch from the quarterback’s defense team on Monday, with Hardin filing an official response to the litigation of Ashley Solis, who was the first woman to bring a civil suit against Watson.
In that filing, which Hardin titled “Defendant Deshaun Watson’s Original Answer,” the quarterback’s defense alleges that “plaintiffs saw an opportunity for a money grab” and each tailored their recollections of interactions with Watson to support civil litigation against him.
The filing comes with a summary of counter-allegations against the women who have filed suits against Watson — with an inference that the quarterback’s defense team has been able to take apart the story of each accuser now that their identities have become part of the public record. Hardin attempts to drive that point home with a brief indexing of claims that divide Watson’s accusers into different sub-groups based on their alleged behavior surrounding the incidents spelled out in civil suits.
Within that indexing, Hardin contends:
• After the massage therapy sessions with Mr. Watson, 8 plaintiffs bragged about, praised and were excited about massaging Mr. Watson;
• 7 plaintiffs willingly worked or offered to work with Mr. Watson after their alleged incidents;
• 3 plaintiffs lied about the number of sessions they actually had with Mr. Watson;
• 3 plaintiffs lied about their alleged trauma and resulting harm;
• 5 plaintiffs told others they wanted to get money out of Mr. Watson;
• and 5 plaintiffs have scrubbed or entirely deleted their social media accounts.
The crux of Hardin’s accusation against Solis — and more broadly against the entire group of 22 suits against Watson — is that all the women had encounters with Watson that were either unremarkable massage sessions or consensual sexual contact, but are now lying about the experiences to extract money from the quarterback. And Hardin claims to have the evidence or testimony to prove it in each case.
“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,” Hardin wrote in his legal response to the Solis civil claim. “Innocent questions about whether the therapists were comfortable with the therapy Mr. Watson sought evolved into sexual innuendo that the plaintiffs used to bolster their claims for money.”
While the response was specifically to the Solis suit, Hardin went on to spell out counter-accusations against multiple other women who have filed civil suits as well. The filing appears to be an effort to continue to expose the names of the women who have brought the suits in legal documents, while also tying them together under a collective allegation of fabrications or misstatements. It also stated that Watson is ready to move forward to a jury trial in the Solis civil suit.
Hardin doubled down on that effort more directly Monday afternoon, when he released a statement to media following the filing of his response to the Solis suit.
“We and Mr. Watson take allegations of sexual misconduct against women very seriously, as we all should,” Hardin said “We have waited to respond to the numerous allegations made by [the attorney for the 22 women, Tony Buzbee] and his clients until we could responsibly investigate. In the few days since his accusers’ names have been revealed, as was required by Texas law, we are discovering an avalanche of false accusations. Only two of these 22 lawsuits allege forced sexual activity, which Mr. Watson vehemently denies. … I hope everyone will take a fair and measured look at these accusations as we go forward in these cases. We certainly welcome anyone with relevant information to contact us.”
Buzbee did not respond to requests for comment on the filing as of Monday afternoon.
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