An American sports reporter has been fired after he compared Deshaun Watson's alleged sexual assault victims to "terrorists".
Houston Texans NFL star Watson is facing 22 lawsuits from women who allege he sexually assaulted them or behaved inappropriately during the course of a massage.
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The original lawsuits filed by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee identify the plaintiffs only as Jane Doe, but the 13 women were ordered to identify themselves after a pair of emergency hearings last week.
When discussing the allegations against Watson, Houston Chronicle football reporter Aaron Wilson sparked outrage by comparing the situation to "negotiating with terrorists".
“In his (Watson's) case, you know, it’s kind of (like) you don’t negotiate with terrorists,” Wilson said on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” on March 19.
“People are demanding money, they’re asking for money. It kept escalating, it kept going up and up and up.
“You’re talking about more and more funds, I’m not going to say how much it got to, but my understanding is... that there was an admission that... this was, you know, just a money grab.”
Defector.com first reported that the experienced reporter had been fired by the Houston Chronicle in the wake of the controversial comments.
It did not specify that his statement was the reason the organisation let him go, however, Wilson issued an apology in the wake of the uproar.
Veteran reporter 'made a mistake'
“I made a mistake that I fully understand and own when I did not choose my words nearly carefully enough during a discussion on a March 19 radio program regarding the sensitive, complex and controversial Deshaun Watson legal situation, in the days following the initial filing of the civil lawsuits from women against him,” Wilson wrote.
“My efforts to convey perspectives on the situation clearly demonstrated an unintentional lack of sensitivity to the serious nature of these type of allegations, and I sincerely apologise for my remarks.
“I didn’t maintain my own high standards that I’ve established and applied during my two decades covering many other similarly important and delicate situations in the NFL. I will proceed much more carefully going forward and learn from this moment.
“I am committed to outstanding journalism now and always.”
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, filed an emergency motion last Thursday asking that all of the plaintiffs be identified.
Two of the women, Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley, had already come out publicly before that motion was raised.
Watson, who has denied all wrongdoing, is the subject of ongoing investigations by the Houston police and the NFL.
The 25-year-old star reached a four-year, $156 million contract deal with the Texans in September.
He went on to earn a third consecutive Pro Bowl selection before requesting a trade in January.
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