HOUSTON (AP) – Houston Texan quarterback Deshaun Watson has been sued by four other women on charges of sexual assault and harassment.
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The lawsuits were filed Thursday night, hours after the NFL said it was investigating previous allegations by three massage therapists who said the quarterback sexually assaulted them during the massages.
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The claims in the four new lawsuits filed in a Harris County district court mirror those in the three earlier cases. Every woman who sued Thursday worked at a spa or gave massages, claiming Watson exposed himself, touched her with his penis, or kissed her against her will.
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None of the seven women who sued separately, but all of whom are represented by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, are named in the lawsuits. They each claim damages and punitive damages as well as court costs.
Watson, 25, has broadly denied he acted inappropriately, saying in a statement Tuesday that he looks forward to clearing his name. In a statement Friday, a Watson attorney Rusty Hardin called the allegations “unfounded”.
Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Buzbee said he awaited more lawsuits and that his company was looking into additional claims from women, including one related to an incident this month. None of his clients have filed police reports, he said, “but this is our next step.”
Buzbee said some of the massage therapists who came forward worked in spas, some worked from home, and others worked in luxury hotels. All but one, flown in from Atlanta, were from the Houston area.
“These are mostly licensed professionals. These are people, many of whom are single mothers who either own their own shop or work at a spa, ”he said. Three clients are married and one is engaged to be married.
The women are suing for $ 500 in damages, the lowest possible claim in a Texas civil court. “You are bringing these cases for one reason only – to prevent further wrongdoing by this defendant or anyone like him,” he said.
Hardin’s statement said he was “extremely proud to represent Deshaun Watson and to stand behind him.”
“However, we will wait to complete our review of the numerous evolving allegations made by Mr Buzbee,” the statement said. “We’ll answer next week and ask you to stay open until we do.”
One of the best quarterbacks in the league, Watson led the NFL by in yards last season. He signed a four-year contract extension for $ 156 million with the Texans last off-season but became dissatisfied with the direction the team was headed when Houston dropped to 4-12 and he requested a deal in January.