The Deshaun Watson saga has taken an unexpected turn.
A sexual assault lawsuit has been filed against the Texans quarterback. Attorney Tony Buzbee disclosed the litigation on Tuesday night. Buzbee tells FOX 26 that Watson was receiving a massage from a female and Watson “went too far.”
“As a result of a social-media post by a publicity-seeking plaintiff’s lawyer, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me,” Watson writes. “I have not yet seen the complaint, but I know this: I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect. The plaintiff’s lawyer claims that this isn’t about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected. Unlike him, this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that.”
The civil justice system has a low bar for proving allegations, and an even lower bar for making them. Watson may indeed be right, but there’s a process he’ll now have to navigate in order to prove it.
Ultimately, it could come down to his word against the word of the alleged victim. That’s something that a jury would have to resolve after hearing testimony and studying witness demeanor at trial.
Again, Watson may be fully in the right. But no civil lawsuit is dismissed simply because the defendant regards the claim as baseless — most defendants in these situations do. The evidence that is or isn’t developed will result in a conclusion as to whether the charges do or don’t have merit, absent a settlement of the case.
Separate from the civil justice system is the NFL’s in-house procedure for determining whether a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy has occurred. The league often investigates such claims separate from the formal legal process. It remains to be seen what the league will do in this case; the first step will surely entail a full examination of the legal filing.