HOUSTON — Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson must say whether he had sex with 18 massage therapists who supported him last year following criminal complaints, a judge in Texas ruled Tuesday.
USA Today reported that Watson has 30 days to comply. He previously did not talk about his past with the masseuses. Watson also has to provide other information about his massage history dating back to 2019, including any language in his contract with the Houston Texans regarding massage.
Watson, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, was traded last month from Houston to Cleveland.
He has been accused by 22 women of sexual misconduct during therapy sessions, many of which he fixed by contacting massage therapists on social media in 2020 and 2021.
To this point, two grand juries have refused to indict Watson in 10 criminal complaints filed with Houston police. He is still facing civil lawsuits and has been giving statements about them for several weeks.
As part of those civil lawsuits, the women’s attorneys want Watson to answer written “requests for admission” about whether he had sex with the 18 masseuses who backed him after the first lawsuits were filed against him in March 2021. .
The plaintiffs’ attorneys say the answers would show a pattern and motives for arranging the massages.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Harris County District Court Judge Rabeea Sultan Collier ruled in favor of the plaintiff, USA Today reported. Watson’s attorney asked for the reasoning, but Collier did not explain.
“The objection is overruled,” the judge said in response. “Thanks”.
Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, sat out last season after asking the Texans to trade him. When the first grand jury decided not to indict Watson, a bidding war broke out between the Browns and various NFL teams.
Watson initially turned down the Browns before changing his mind, waiving his no-trade clause and signing a record five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract with Cleveland.
Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said they initially took issue with the decision to pursue Watson, knowing he would not be popular with many fans. However, they said they felt more comfortable hiring him after meeting with Watson and learning more about him.
When introduced by Cleveland late last month, Watson told the media: “I have never assaulted, disrespected or harassed any woman in my life. I have never done these things that people allege.” It was the first time he had answered direct questions about the allegations.
Watson could still face discipline from the NFL.
Last week, commissioner Roger Goodell said there was no timeline for the league’s investigation into Watson’s behavior off the field. An independent arbitrator will determine whether Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy before Goodell issues a penalty.