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Deshaun Watson’s attorney says that one of the female massage therapists accusing his client of sexual assault attempted to “blackmail” the Texans quarterback before filing a civil lawsuit.
As of Tuesday, 16 lawsuits have been filed against Watson.
“In January of this year, a woman attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in exchange for her ‘indefinite silence’ about what she stated was a consensual encounter,” said Rusty Hardin, who is representing Watson. “It is our belief this woman is the plaintiff in Cause No. 2021-15613. This calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well.”
Hardin is referring to a suit filed last week that claimed Watson tried to force the massage therapist to perform oral sex in Houston.
The plaintiff in that case is seeking “minimal compensatory damages,” and the lawsuit noted that she has “suffered mental anguish as a result of Watson’s behavior.”
Though none of the plaintiff’s identities have been disclosed, Hardin said his team was able to identify this accuser based off a conversation she apparently had with the Texans’ marketing manager, Bryan Burney, in January.
The woman told Bruney she wanted $30,000 for her “indefinite silence,” he said. When asked why she would need to be silent, despite saying the encounter was consensual, the woman responded that it was a matter the two wanted to keep secret.
Bruney then said the woman’s “business manager” followed up with Bruney, telling him if the encounter was made public it would be embarrassing for both of them.
The business manager told Bruney, “It’s not extortion, it’s blackmail,” according to Bruney.
Hardin, Watson’s attorney, also criticized Tony Buzbee, the Houston-based lawyer representing the accusers.
“Opposing counsel has orchestrated a circus-like atmosphere by using social media to publicize 14 ‘Jane Doe’ lawsuits (two more women came forward since this statement) during the past seven days in a manner calculated to inflame the public and malign Deshaun’s otherwise sterling reputation,” Hardin said in a statement. “In addition, the tactic of refusing our requests to confidentially provide the names of the plaintiffs so we can fully investigate their claims makes uncovering the truth extremely difficult. Anonymity is often necessary as a shield for victims but opposing counsel has used it as a sword to publicly humiliate Deshaun before the truth‑seeking process can even begin.”
Hardin said he has received several unsolicited reports from other massage therapists who have worked with Watson.
“These women describe him as a gentleman and a model client who never engaged in inappropriate conduct,” Hardin said. “Indeed, before these salacious claims, everyone who associated with Deshaun described him as an outstanding, respectful, and compassionate man.”
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