Mark Zaleski/Associated Press
Rusty Hardin denied all allegations against Watson and criticized the way the lawsuits have been filed (h/t TMZ Sports):
“I want to emphasize at the outset that we and Deshaun recognize that sexual assault and harassment are not only unlawful, but morally wrong. It takes courage for women to come forward to report being mistreated, particularly when they attach their names to a lawsuit. We do not take these allegations lightly. However, fairness to the accused is equally as important.
“Opposing counsel has orchestrated a circus-like atmosphere by using social media to publicize 14 ‘Jane Doe’ lawsuits during the past seven days in a manner calculated to inflame the public and malign Deshaun’s otherwise sterling reputation. 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 went on to say, “Any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false.”
He also claimed a woman “attempted to blackmail Deshaun” by requesting $30,000 for her silence of what Hardin said was a “consensual encounter” between the two.
On March 16, Watson posted a statement on social media referencing a civil suit filed against him, denying the allegations and saying he “never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect.”
ESPN’s Sarah Barshop reported Tuesday a 14th suit has been filed against Watson, alleging he “assaulted and harassed Plaintiff by exposing himself to her and touching her with his penis.”
ESPN provided a summary of all the allegations that have surfaced, with the alleged incidents spanning from March 30, 2020, to March 5, 2021. On multiple occasions, Watson is believed to have contacted women on Instagram for massage and physical therapy sessions.
Multiple women said he made unwanted sexual advances, asked them to massage him around his groin, and touched them with his penis while receiving a massage. On at least three occasions, Watson ejaculated during a session.
Dane Schiller, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, declined to provide a statement about whether Watson might face criminal charges, saying it would be “inappropriate” to speak publicly on a civil matter, per Barshop.