CLEVELAND — WARNING: The below story features graphic and explicit content. Reader discretion is advised.
As expected, a 24th different woman has filed a civil lawsuit accusing Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct.
Attorney Tony Buzbee and his law firm officially filed the complaint Monday in Harris County, Texas District Court on behalf of their client. It's the second new lawsuit against Watson in the last week, and Buzbee had told reporters this one was coming.
According to a copy of the filing obtained by 3News, the plaintiff in this case was a massage therapist in the Houston area, just like the previous 23 accusers. She claims she owned her own small massage business and was "excited and encouraged" when Watson reached out to her asking for an appointment. At the time, Watson was still playing for the Houston Texans.
The woman says Watson met her for a massage on two occasions within a week of each other in August of 2020. The first, she asserts, was "professional," with Watson even electing to pay her $100 for a $55 session. However, the QB "had to leave abruptly" after taking a phone call and asked the woman to "just keep this between us."
Four days later, Watson allegedly came to the plaintiff's apartment for another appointment, and according to the lawsuit "demanded that she work on his inner thighs and quadriceps" despite initially wanting her to massage his upper body area. From there, the details become strikingly similar to some of the prior accusations (including the 23rd lawsuit filed last Tuesday), with the plaintiff claiming Watson exposed himself to her, asked her to touch his private area (she says she would not), and eventually partly ejaculated on her without her consent.
The accuser says she was "very uncomfortable" and "scared" during the ordeal, as she feared Watson's physical strength as well as possible "retaliation against her small business." She further claims she called a friend and retold what happened before quitting massage therapy altogether shortly thereafter.
Watson has been facing accusations of sexual harassment and assault for more than a year, but this past winter two grand juries in Texas declined to file criminal charges in the case. The Browns acquired Watson from the Texans shortly thereafter and signed him to a new contract worth an NFL record $230 million guaranteed.
Watson his denied any wrongdoing, saying at a press conference in Berea back in March he has "never assaulted, I never disrespected and I never harassed any woman in my life." Rusty Hardin, the lead lawyer for Watson's camp, released a statement last Friday that said, in part:
"Deshaun did nothing illegal. Deshaun has always acknowledged consensual sexual activity with three of the plaintiff massage therapists after massages. And Deshaun has repeatedly sworn under oath that he did not force any of his accusers to have sexual contact."
In Monday's court filing, Buzbee and his team hit back at Watson for saying he has "no regrets" regarding his past actions. They also took direct aim at Hardin, who on a Houston radio show last week said it was "not a crime" to receive a "happy ending" during a massage session (Hardin later said he was "using the term hypothetically," although Watson has admitted to having "consensual" sex with three of his accusers)
"What Plaintiff alleges herein is disgusting and abhorrent conduct," the suit attests regarding the claims against Watson. "Despite Watson's legal team's efforts to normalize such conduct, such conduct is not normal, and is legally objectionable."
The Browns have yet to comment publicly on today's news, but during OTAs in Berea last week after the 23rd lawsuit came out, head coach Kevin Stefanski mostly side-stepped the issue. He did, however, reiterate that the club had done its own research on Watson prior to trading for him.
"It goes back to the work we did prior to this," Stefanski said. "We've covered that. But I'll just continue to let the proceedings play out."