A lawyer representing 22 women who filed lawsuits against Deshaun Watson, Houston Texans quarterback, for sexual assault and harassment has stated Wednesday that he had spoken with the FBI about the matter along with some of his clients.
Tony Buzbee told The Associated Press that the FBI “reached out to me, and I responded.” The FBI’s involvement was first reported Tuesday by League of Justice, a website that reports on sports and the law.
Buzbee’s revelation of FBI involvement led Watson’s lead lawyer to call a news conference Wednesday to reveal that Watson had been contacted earlier in the year by the FBI about extortion allegations by one of his accusers.
In their lawsuits, the 22 women accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will during massage appointments.
Watson and his lawyers denied the allegations. Watson’s lawyers claim that “some sexual activity” occurred during certain appointments, but that he never coerced anyone.
Houston police are currently investigating the allegations, but have not filed any charges. The NFL launched its own investigation.
At a news conference Wednesday, Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lead attorney, said FBI agents approached him in April over allegations that one of the women who has sued Watson tried to extort $30,000 from him. Hardin stated that Watson was interviewed by agents. Watson, according to the woman, forced her to have oral sex.
Christina Garza, the spokeswoman of the FBI’s Houston branch, stated in an email that she couldn’t confirm or deny the existence a probe.
Hardin stated that grand jury subpoenas were sent by local authorities to assist with the investigation, but he doesn’t know any details.
“When the (prosecutors’) investigation has concluded, the findings will be presented before a grand jury. Hardin stated that we will be allowed to present our side and will be heard in an impartial hearing.
Hardin stated that he was happy for the FBI to be involved in the case. He also criticised Buzbee’s decision to reveal the involvement of the FBI, pointing out that FBI investigations are typically kept secret.
Hardin stated that Buzbee knows that lawsuits are unlikely to be successful in the long-term. “All he wants is to go out and promote himself and the lawsuits, and then try to get Deshaun involved in settling them and paying him money to ride off into the sunset.
Buzbee denied that he was seeking publicity or money, and accused Hardin to trying to change the narrative as well as “trying to protect the indefensible.”
Hardin read text messages from Watson that he claimed were sent to him during his news conference. Hardin stated that she did not mention the alleged attack that took place on December 28, 2020 during a massage session.
Hardin claims that the woman wrote one text to Hardin saying, “Hello Deshaun, I just wanted to thank you for trusting in me with your massage today.” If you would like another massage, I will be available until Jan. 3.
Hardin stated that the woman had written in another text, “I just wanted to say I am sorry for my actions.” This was not me. That moment would have been mine if I could. My integrity and professionalism were really lost on me.”
Buzbee accused Hardin, who he claimed attacked the women who had sued Watson.
Buzbee stated that DeShaun Watson has a problem, and his lawyer isn’t focused on it. “He is focusing on attacking me and my clients, and I’m tired.”
Watson’s lawyers sought to balance Watson’s defense with condemning women’s sexual violence.
Watson’s lawyers have called the lawsuits against Watson a “money grab” but they have retorted that all 22 women who filed suit are lying. This strategy, experts and advocates claim, relies on well-known tropes to minimize accusations. Buzbee said that some of his clients have been subject to criticism and even death threats.
Buzbee stated that he did not intend to settle the lawsuits.
“We are going to have a trial. He said that he was certain Hardin would be against him and that he felt confident.
Watson’s future remains uncertain with the Texans. Watson reported to the Texans training camp last month to avoid being fined. Watson signed a four-year, $160 million contract extension with the Texans in 2020 and led the NFL in yards passing last season. He had requested to be traded before the lawsuits were filed.