Houston Texans Quarterback Deshaun Watson to not face criminal charges in sexual assault allegations
Updated: Jun 29, 2022
In what has to have been a whirlwind roller coaster ride of emotions for Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson over the last year due to sexual misconduct allegations filed by 22 women who accused him of harrassment and sexual assault. But some positive news came on Friday, when a grand jury declined to indict Watson following a police investigation that was initiated due to those lawsuits.
The prosecutors in Harris, Texas, displayed the evidence and testimony to the 12 people in the grand jury for over six hours on Friday that were in relation to the 9 of 10 criminal complaints against Watson. The grand jury dismissed all nine cases as the prosecutors decided to not present the 10th due to the previous ones being dismissed.
According to Johna Stallings, the chief of the adult sex crimes and trafficking division with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, the grand jury's decision ended criminal proceedings related to Watson in Harris County in Houston.
Watson expressed his relief after the jury’s decision by stating: It's definitely a very emotional moment for me. I know we're far from being [done of handling] what we need to handle on the legal side, but today is definitely a big day. I thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ for letting the truth be heard. And I thank everyone that was a part of this for seeing and hearing both sides. That's what my point and my team wanted to do, is have a fair slate of us telling our side of the story and letting the conclusion come to what happened today, and that's what the grand jury decided on.”
He continued his statement with: "I'm just going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community. And on the legal side, handle what we need to handle. But also ready to get on the field, and prep for that."
The announcement of the jury’s decision on Friday came almost a year after the first lawsuit was filed against Watson, with the 22 civil cases accusing him of inappropriate behavior at massage appointments, touching women with his genitals, and oral sex. Eight of the women who sued Watson filed complaints against him to the Houston police and were set to appear before the jury trial, while two women who also sued Watson filed police complaints.
Watson’s lawyers did state “that some sexual activity” did occur during some of the massage appointments but that he did not coerce anyone to perform sexual acts without consent.
Watson’s lead attorney, Rustin Hardin, stated: "We are delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did, Deshaun Watson did not commit any crimes and is not guilty of any offenses. Now that the criminal investigations have been completed, we are happy to move forward with the civil case depositions. We will vigorously defend those cases with every ounce we have."
Watson has not played for the Texans since the first lawsuit was filed against him on March 16, 2020, and missed all of the 2021 NFL season despite being listed as active on the roster. He was still paid his full $10.54 million in base salary. In January, 2021, Watson asked the Texans to trade him because he was unhappy with the direction the franchise was going.
With the news of Watson not facing criminal charges, expect the trade market to start heating up for the star quarterback, with Houston open to moving him and multiple teams reportedly interested in him such as the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, and Pittsburgh Steelers, just to name a few.