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30 women settle Watson-related claims against Texans

Associated press

HOUSTON — Thirty women who accused the Houston Texans of turning a blind eye to allegations that their former star quarterback Deshaun Watson sexually assaulted and harassed women at massage sessions have settled their legal claims against the team , their lawyer said on Friday.

The terms of the agreements between each of the women and the Texans are confidential, attorney Tony Buzbee said.

While only one of the women had filed a lawsuit against the team, the others intended to sue the Texans before settlements were reached, Buzbee said.

In separate lawsuits, 24 women accused Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will during massage appointments while he played for the Texans. A woman alleged that Watson forced her to perform oral sex. Last month, Buzbee announced that 20 of those 24 lawsuits had been settled.

In a statement, Texans owners Janice McNair and Hannah and Cal McNair said that while the team has no knowledge of Watson’s alleged misconduct, they were “shocked and deeply saddened” when they learned the charges for the first time and have chosen to resolve the claims against the team “out of court”.

“This is not an admission of wrongdoing, but rather a clear stand against all forms of sexual assault and misconduct. We hope today’s resolution will provide some form of closure to the parties involved, to our fans and to the Houston community as a whole. As an organization, we will now focus on the future and do what we can to ensure respect for all,” the McNairs said in their statement.

In the lawsuit filed last month against the Texans, a woman accused the team and some of its employees of knowing or knowing about Watson’s troubling behavior and “a known tendency to push boundaries when massage sessions. The lawsuit alleged that the Texans provided Watson with various resources, including rooms in a Houston hotel, massage tables and a nondisclosure agreement the women had to sign that allowed the quarterback “to continue his misconduct.” with women”.

Buzbee said he would have no further comment on the allegations against the Texans, in a statement he added “there is a stark contrast in the way the Texans have approached these allegations and the way the team of Watson did.”

Watson, who agreed to be traded to the Cleveland Browns in March after four seasons with Houston, has maintained his innocence and that any sex with therapists was consensual. The 26-year-old is facing possible NFL discipline over the allegations.

Watson, who signed a five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns, is waiting to see if he will be eligible to play this season. NFL Disciplinary Officer Sue L. Robinson will decide whether the three-time Pro Bowler violated the league’s personal conduct policy with his off-court behavior.

A former Delaware federal judge, Robinson held a hearing last month in which the league and the NFL Players Association made submissions. The league has insisted on an indefinite suspension for Watson while the union says there are no grounds for an extended ban since he has committed no crime.

Two separate grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on any criminal charges.

This is the first case for Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the league and the union to handle discipline. She reviewed the post-hearing briefs of both parties.

The Browns, who traded three first-round picks to Houston and six total to Watson, are eager to know how long they could be without their starting quarterback. The team opens training camp on July 25.

Buzbee said he hopes to bring the remaining four lawsuits against Watson to court next spring.