Another woman has filed a lawsuit against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, making it the 23rd.
It’s the first lawsuit against him since the 22 others were filed in March and April 2021, and could potentially complicate any plan for the NFL to resolve preseason questions about Watson’s game status.
In that case, the lawsuit filed Tuesday says the woman had three encounters with Watson during which Watson’s behavior progressively deteriorated. During the third encounter, in the summer of 2020, the lawsuit says, Watson exposed himself to her, touched the woman between her legs and repeatedly demanded that the woman have sex with him.
After initially deciding not to file a lawsuit against Watson, the woman changed her mind after seeing a segment about the lawsuits on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel last week.
“In this play, the plaintiff was impressed by the courage of the victims who were willing to come forward and speak up, and was extremely dissatisfied with the mistreatment and renewed harassment of the plaintiffs by Watson and his legal team,” the new lawsuit reads. “But it was Watson himself, who claimed he had no regrets and had done nothing wrong, that cemented her resolve. She is bringing this case to seek minimum compensation but to obtain a judicial finding that Watson’s conduct was wrong.”
Watson, 26, has denied wrongdoing and has not been arrested or charged. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the women were lying, were out for money and said three of the cases involved consensual sex initiated by the plaintiffs. He did not immediately respond with a request for comment.
The new lawsuit says the woman didn’t want to give Watson a third massage after her first two encounters with him in Houston. But she couldn’t refuse Watson as a customer because her boss at the massage spa, Dionne Louis, wanted Watson as a customer and wanted to keep him happy, according to the lawsuit filed in Harris County, Texas.
This spa “provided women for Watson” and Louis “facilitated massages for Watson and knew Watson was trying to have sex with them,” the suit reads.
The woman learned that Watson paid Louis $5,000 for Louis’ “work,” and the lawsuit includes a issuance of the apparent Cash App receipt. Other plaintiffs have also been linked to Louis.
When the third massage was over, the woman decided to quit her job there, the suit said.
“She was completely traumatized by the experience with Watson,” the suit reads. “She now realizes that Deshuan Watson, with the help of Dionne Louis, has been manipulating her all along.”
Louis denied this when reached by USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday.
“This is all ridiculous,” Louis said over the phone. Louis’ attorney declined to comment.
Like many others, the new plaintiff said Watson initially contacted her on Instagram and had no prior contact with him. She is represented by attorney Tony Buzbee, who is lead counsel for all 23 plaintiffs.
“Today we filed suit for the 23rd plaintiff in this lawsuit,” Buzbee said in a statement Tuesday. “Other cases may arise. The Watson defense team slandered these women and this cause. Shame on you! We look forward to hearing this case in court.”
The NFL has been investigating these cases and could suspend Watson if found to have violated the league’s personal conduct guidelines. In March, two Texas grand juries reviewed a total of 10 criminal complaints filed against Watson with police, but declined to indict him on criminal charges.
Watson previously played for the Houston Texans but was recently traded to the Browns, who gave him a record $230 million five-year contract.
The NFL declined to comment when asked if the new lawsuit could change the timeline of the NFL’s investigation. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week the investigation is nearing its conclusion.
Contributors: Nate Ulrich, Akron Beacon Journal