Texas grand jury set to hear Deshaun Watson case

Nearly a year after the sexual misconduct allegations against Deshaun Watson were first made public, several women who filed criminal co...


Nearly a year after the sexual misconduct allegations against Deshaun Watson were first made public, several women who filed criminal complaints against him were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury on Friday, according to their attorney, Tony Buzbee.

Ten women filed criminal complaints against Houston Texans quarterback Watson last year, accusing him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions, according to Houston police records. The complaints made public were heavily redacted but listed acts ranging from Watson exposing himself, touching therapists’ hands with his penis and ejaculating on them. Three of the complaints allege sexual assault or attempted sexual assault, defined in Texas as non-consensual penetration. Prosecutors are expected to present at least some of those cases to the grand jury, which will decide whether criminal charges will be brought against Watson.

Search warrants issued in October as part of the Houston Police investigation, seeking access to social media and Cash App accounts, police said Watson used to book and pay for massages, named indecent assault as the crime under investigation. Molestation is a class A misdemeanor in Texas, punishable by one year in prison and a maximum fine of $4,000, while sexual assault is a second-degree felony.

Watson has denied any wrongdoing and the grand jury may decide not to charge him with any crime. Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, said on Tuesday he was “pleased” the grand jury would convene because these issues have hung over Watson for too long already. He hopes the grand jury will make a decision about Watson on Friday.

“Free agency time is right around the corner and we wanted to get that decision done by then and it looks like they will and I welcome that,” Hardin said in a phone interview.

“There’s never been a crime here, whether you call it indecent assault or whatever,” he said. “These are civil matters that belong to the civil courts.”

The Harris County District Attorney’s Office, which includes Houston, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

On the same day grand jury proceedings appear set to begin, Watson will be questioned under oath for some of the 22 civil lawsuits against him, Buzbee said. Eight of the 10 women who have filed criminal complaints also have a civil action pending, but Watson will not yet be filed in those cases. Hardin sought to delay Watson’s deposition after April 1. But a judge ruled last month that Watson’s depositions could begin for nine of the civil cases in which plaintiffs have already filed depositions and have not filed a criminal complaint.

Hardin said Watson’s deposition on Friday would be “a worthless exercise” because he will advise Watson to assert his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself.

“We’re not going to take questions until the grand jury is done,” he said.

Ashley Solis, a 28-year-old licensed massage therapist, filed the first civil lawsuit against Watson last spring, claiming he deliberately touched her hand with his erect penis and exposed it during a massage appointment on the 30th March 2020 at his home. She filed a police report in early April 2021. Since the statute of limitations for misdemeanor cases in Texas is two years from the date the offense took place, the deadline for filing charges against Watson in the Solis case is the end of this month.

Of the 10 criminal complaints filed with Houston police, one has already exceeded the statute of limitations, an account of an indecent assault from 2019. Another took place outside of Harris County and is believed to fall within the jurisdiction from another prosecutor.

Plaintiffs who receive a subpoena do not know whether the prosecutor will present their case to the grand jury or whether they will be called to testify in other cases. Buzbee said he knows at least six of his clients who received subpoenas.

Watson hasn’t played in an NFL game since January 2021. He was eligible to play in the 2021 season but sat out while seeking a trade to the Texans.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Texas grand jury set to hear Deshaun Watson case
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