Alleged details emerge in sexual assault suit against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson

Charles Robinson
·NFL columnist
·5-min read
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HOUSTON — A civil lawsuit filed late Tuesday evening against Deshaun Watson claims that the Houston Texans quarterback assaulted and harassed a Houston massage therapist in March of 2020, allegedly touching her with his erect penis while propositioning her for sex during a visit to her home for treatment.

Watson denied the merit of the suit on social media late Tuesday night, vowing to clear his name and stating that the alleged victim’s attorney had preceded the civil filing by making “a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected.” The Texans released a statement late Tuesday night claiming to have been unaware of “the matter” but stating that the team would take the accusations seriously. The NFL has declined comment on the suit.

The suit — which alleges that Watson texted an apology after the incident — is seeking a jury trial and uncapped punitive damages from Watson, alleging that his actions caused the masseuse to engage counseling for panic attacks, depression, anxiety and loss of sleep.

Timeline of allegations in Deshaun Watson lawsuit

The details of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's alleged sexual assault are out. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
The details of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's alleged sexual assault are out. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

In the civil filing, which was delivered by well-known Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, the alleged victim claims that Watson contacted her via direct message through his Instagram account in late March of last year, seeking a private professional massage session. The suit claims that Watson was seeking a “relaxation” massage rather than a sports massage, and that he followed up their conversation with a text asking if the woman was “comfortable with certain areas [his] organization is making [him] get worked on.”

The filing claims that Watson and the masseuse agreed to an appointment at the woman’s home, with the quarterback allegedly inquiring at one point about whether he would be the only one in the home with her. It goes on to state that Watson brought a small towel with him to cover his groin area and after undressing for the massage, began to dictate how he wanted the treatment performed — including an alleged emphasis on his groin area.

The suit then stated the specific allegation of assault:

“It became apparent that Watson wanted a massage for only one reason — sex. Scared, a bit confused, and not wanting to upset the much bigger and athletic Watson, Plaintiff did not know what to do. … As she was trying to figure out how to extricate herself from the situation, Watson continued to aggressively attempt to steer the conversation to how Plaintiff was not rubbing him the way he wanted. Several times he specifically kept trying to direct her to his penis. At one point, he purposely exposed the tip of his penis from under the towel. Watson was at this point fully erect, and moved his body so he could expose himself more. As a result of his moving his hips, Watson purposely touched Plaintiff’s hand with the tip of his erect penis. Plaintiff was shocked and mortified. Plaintiff abruptly ended the massage, and asked Watson to leave house. By now, Plaintiff was scared and started crying.”

The suit went on to claim that Watson departed the home without incident, but only after making an implied threat about damaging the reputation of the masseuse following the encounter, stating that the quarterback allegedly said:

“I know you have a career and a reputation, and I know you would hate for someone to mess with yours, just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.”

The suit added that weeks later, two other NFL players reached out to the masseuse on Instagram, stating that “Big D” had recommended her for massages. And in what might be the crux of the alleged victim’s complaint, the suit alleges that Watson later “reached out to Plaintiff via text message to apologize for the incident.” The filing doesn’t characterize specifics of the apology.

Buzbee also took an overt shot at the NFL at one point in the filing, characterizing the league as being “notorious” for having a culture that fosters “sexual harassment and sexual assault.”

The filing went on:

“Despite its lip service and a strong ad campaign to the contrary, many of [the NFL’s] players have been accused of committing heinous sexual crimes against women. The NFL is no stranger to scandal, certain when it comes to offenses against women.”

What happens now with the Deshaun Watson litigation?

The civil suit seeks a jury trial after a period of discovery, including a venue of Harris County for the proceedings — which would take place in the city of Houston if granted. It also seeks a wide range of “exemplary” damages in relation to the alleged incident, including past and future for: pain and suffering, physical impairment, “enjoyment of life and peace of mind,” “medical, counseling, psychiatric, therapeutic and related expenses,” and loss of earnings. It also asserts that the alleged victim “made a good faith effort to resolve this matter prior to the filing of this lawsuit.”

Watson will now be motivated to make his own official legal response, with the likelihood that his representatives will first seek to have the case dismissed. This will result in future legal filings of his own that could expose other details of the allegation — or at the very least, lay out Watson’s version of events.

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