NFL star quarterback facing multiple sexual misconduct lawsuits
Houston, United States - The number of lawsuits filed by women alleging sexual misconduct by Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson rose to 16 on Tuesday as a lawyer for the NFL star hit back at the legal onslaught.
After a 14th civil case against Watson was filed late Monday, two more cases alleging similar misconduct by the player were filed in Texas on Tuesday.
Watson, 25, has been accused by multiple female masseuses of sexual misconduct during therapy sessions he had booked privately.
Allegations against Watson include forcing a masseuse to perform a sex act and touching others with his genitals.
The Texans superstar, who is regarded as one of the best quarterback in the NFL, has strongly denied wrongdoing.
A lawyer for Watson's alleged victims said last week more than 22 women had come forward with allegations against the player, which are the subject of an investigation by the NFL.
In a statement issued after the first accusation emerged last week, Watson denied acting improperly, saying his accuser was seeking a payday.
"I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect," Watson said.
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, meanwhile said Tuesday his investigators had found "strong evidence" indicating one accuser's story was false, adding it "calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well."
"I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false," Hardin said.
Hardin said that in January, a woman had "attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 for her 'indefinite silence' about what she stated was a consensual encounter."
He also said several massage therapists had come forward who described Watson as a "model client."
"Before these salacious claims, everyone who associated with Deshaun described him as an outstanding, respectful, and compassionate man," Hardin said.
Watson threw for an NFL-leading 4,832 yards in 2020 with 33 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.
The Texans drafted him in the first round in 2017 and coach David Culley has said the team is "committed" to Watson, although the three-time Pro Bowler has reportedly requested a trade.