Editor’s note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Deshaun Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, requested medical records from the quarterback’s accusers in order to show whether they suffered emotional distress after their encounters with Watson in massage sessions, per USA Today.
Hardin claimed in the court filing submitted Thursday that only four of the 22 women have shown some medical records, but none have shown all their medical records.
“After publicly vilifying Mr. Watson for more than a year, plaintiffs now seek to withhold and conceal material evidence that would reveal the truth: Mr. Watson did not assault or harass any plaintiff,” Hardin said, via USA Today. “Mr. Watson respectfully requests that the court compel plaintiffs to fully comply with their discovery obligations.”
Watson is still facing 22 active civil lawsuits concerning sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions. The lawsuits describe accounts that range from Watson refusing to cover his genitals to “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.” No trial dates have been set for the 22 active cases, although they aren’t expected to go to trial until after the 2022 NFL season.
One plaintiff, Lauren Baxley, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by her therapist following her instance with Watson, per court records and USA Today. However, the therapist was not aware of text messages between Baxley and Watson as was discovered in the January deposition. According to the filing and USA Today, Hardin believes that undermines Baxley’s emotional distress case.
Baxley’s lawyers, Tony Buzbee and Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, think otherwise.
“Her counselor explained that it is not uncommon for victims to keep in contact with their abusers,” they said in a statement to USA Today. “Doing so does not mean that the victim consented in any way to the perpetrator’s abusive behavior. Her counselor testified that the symptoms she observed with Ms. Baxley are consistent with someone who has been assaulted. Watson’s lawyers neglected to include any of this information of course.”
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Because Baxley left out the information about reaching out to Watson about potentially scheduling another appointment following the sexual assault account made her therapist question whether everything Baxley said in their sessions was “fully truthful.”
The 22 women have yet to send the full set of medical records, per USA Today.
The quarterback also previously faced 10 criminal complaints; however, he is not facing charges following two separate grand jury hearings. According to Jenny Vrentas of The New York Times, those complaints described similar situations, including Watson ejaculating on the massage therapists and either other forms of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.
On March 11, a Harris County grand jury declined to charge Watson on nine complaints, returning nine “no” bills. Nearly two weeks later, another grand jury in Brazoria County declined to charge Watson on a 10th count.
During Watson’s introductory press conference with the Browns, after he was traded on March 18, he continued to deny ever assaulting, harassing or disrespecting any of the women. Cleveland tweeted on Tuesday that “QB1” had arrived for offseason workouts, including a photo of Watson.
The NFL’s investigation into Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct policy is still ongoing, and he could still face suspension. The NFL and NFLPA reportedly agreed for former U.S. District Court Judge Sue Robinson to act as an impartial arbitrator to lead the investigation into disciplinary cases similar to Watson’s.
As the civil deposition proceedings continue, here’s a recap of what has happened on and off the field since Watson’s last snap.
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