The flaws in the statements issued on behalf of Deshaun Watson

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Although the rights of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson remain fully preserved in a court of law, Watson’s case has suffered in recent days in the court of public opinion. On Tuesday, attorney Rusty Hardin fired back on Watson’s behalf, with a statement in which Hardin proclaims Watson’s innocence.

We’ve posted both the Hardin statement and the testimony from Bryan Burney regarding alleged efforts by one of the plaintiffs to receive $30,000 in exchange for silence regarding consensual sexual activities with Watson. This article outlines the potential flaws lurking in and/or flowing from both documents.

First, Hardin criticizes the decision of attorney Tony Buzbee to file 14 lawsuits without naming the plaintiffs. Hardin’s attack on the effort of these persons to preserve their privacy rights as long as they can overlooks one important fact: The lawsuits specify dates and places that the massages occurred. For most if not all plaintiffs, Watson and his legal team should be able to put a name to a date and a place, which they have done as to the plaintiff who allegedly attempted to blackmail Watson. Indeed, Watson has not claimed that one or more of alleged incidents arise from massages that never occurred.

Second, Hardin never denies that sexual activity occurred during these massages. Instead, he says that “any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false.” This implies that consensual sex occurred, not necessarily all the time but at least some of the time, during what were supposed to be massages.

Third, although it’s entirely possible that Watson will be able to show that one of the plaintiffs had an improper profit motive, it’s very difficult at this point to say, as Hardin does, that one fabricated claim “calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well.” If there were only two or three or even four other cases, exposing one as false would necessarily justify intense scrutiny of the others. Here, with 16 cases filed and up to eight more (and maybe more) on the way, it’s impossible to undermine all claims simply by causing one to implode.

Fourth, Hardin says that he has received “numerous unsolicited comments” from “many licensed massage therapists” who have described Deshaun Watson as a “gentleman and a model client who never engaged in inappropriate conduct.” Setting aside the question of whether that evidence would be admissible in the trial of a civil lawsuit (it most likely wouldn’t be), no names are named. Maybe that’s the next step. For now, however, a claim from the person paid to represent Watson’s interests that, essentially, “many are saying” that Watson has never engaged in misconduct during a massage rings hollow, unless names and faces and voices are attached.

Fifth, Hardin is 10,000 percent accurate (if statistically possible) when he says that people should not rush to judgment, and that both sides are entitled to fairness. The problem, however, is that the human beings who make up the jury of the court of public opinion will rush to judgment. Hardin complains about Buzbee’s “antics” and accuses him of creating a “circus-like atmosphere.” Unsavory as Buzbee’s behavior may be, it’s been effective in getting his message out, especially with Watson’s camp falling silent for a full week, as the number of lawsuits went from one to two to 10 to 16.

Regarding Burney’s statement, it’s entirely possible that his account proves conduct that exonerates Watson as to one of the plaintiffs — and that potentially shows that she and her unnamed business manager should be prosecuted. However, Burney’s testimony tends to indirectly confirm the notion that Watson was using these massage sessions as a pretext for consensual sex. Which indirectly bolsters the claims from the plaintiffs who allege that Watson wanted more than a massage, and that they objected.

Maybe Watson will be able to show that one or more claims were fabricated. Maybe he’ll show that, for one of more of the plaintiffs, conduct that was consensual at the time became non-consensual later. It likely will be very difficult to show that all 16 (and up to 24 or more) of the woman claiming assault are telling something other than the truth.

32 responses to “The flaws in the statements issued on behalf of Deshaun Watson

  1. I’m guessing Hardin was ready to profess Watson’s innocence much sooner but for all the new cases being filed on an almost daily basis. Each time it probably required going back to his client to ask him if there was more, and Watson scratching his head to recall them all. He’s apparently addicted to whatever goes on during all these massages.

  2. Remember, Hardin is the same lawyer that said Roger Clemens did not take any PEDS ( Steroids )

  3. Give us your educated guess with what happens here, mike? Too many barracks lawyers that have no legal background spitballing their unfettered ideas. We obviously understand that a case can turn on a dime as néw evidence presents itself, but based on the evidence and or lack of evidence we’ve seen so far, what do you anticipate happening with Watson from your legal background and your background of dissecting how the NFL handles these types of things from a legal lense.

  4. There will be no settlement with Hardin. And if any/all of this is fabricated he will eat them alive…

  5. Generally, I’m wont to believe accusers. This time around, it just seems too convenient that the owner’s self-professed “neighbor” suddenly has untold bombshells to unload on Houston’s star QB at a time when said QB wants out of town.

    Not a Houston fan, but still thinks this stinks to high heaven. If the gals were assaulted, I hope they get their due day in court and proper punishment meted out. If Watson was get his grove on with gals consensually (whether via “massage”or not), then it’s none of our business (ie- who cares).

  6. this is bad. This is Bill Cosby territory. I know people came back from literally killing people, but these are different times. His career might be over.

  7. Wasn’t Mr. Watson aware there are women who do perform those alleged activities for money? Perhaps Robert Kraft could give him some pointers on that hobby. Just saying.

  8. I find it odd that Florio is ok with the plaintiffs’ lawyer keeping their names out of it but Watson’s lawyer not naming who defends Watson’s character means his words ring hollow.

  9. Watson will not play this year. Guaranteed. And it won’t be because of a hold out.

  10. Also, in bringing up that there’s so many more massage therapists that say he was well behaved it begs the question, how the hell many massage therapists does he have and why???

  11. Let’s give Watson some credit, where credit is due; he managed to keep masseuses employed during the pandemic. This article is correct in stating Watson’s statement does not deny he was at said place on said date. That would leave one to believe he’s been doing this with each of the masseuses.

  12. Im sorry … I disagree completely. There needs to be some accountability here… if these women are accusing him of something, they should sign their names to it just like they will that check that they get. I understand the sensitivity of having an accuser stay safe, I really do… but don’t go after somebody’s livelihood and finances anonymously…. that reeks of desperation… not empowerment

  13. “Second, Hardin never denies that sexual activity occurred during these massages. Instead, he says that “any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false.” This implies that consensual sex occurred, not necessarily all the time but at least some of the time, during what were supposed to be massages.”

    -sigh-

    The lawsuit is about sexual assault, not consensual sex…

  14. Let’s say for the sake of argument that every encounter was consensual sex, and the women accusing him of forcing them to have sex are lying. There’s still a serious issue here of paying for sexual services in a state where said act is illegal, and that means the Texans still have a way out of his contract for conduct detrimental to the team. One way or the other his days in Houston are over, and quite possibly his career

  15. On one side stands multiple allegations of sexual assault.

    On the other stands an accusation of blackmail. What do they have in common (at least as of now)? Neither has filed a criminal complaint.

    The truth stands in the middle and will probably chastise both sides when this is over.

  16. Thank you, Mike, for a cogent analysis of the legal issues here. I agree with you as to what a lawyer should counsel Watson.

    But ultimately, it likely comes down to yet another football star never being told No and feeling privileged.

  17. This is also workplace sexual harassment. The fact that this occurred In The workplace causes extra concern IMO. These weren’t casual encounters this was solicited services tied to professional football which resulted in several claims of harassment. If this happens at an office building the claims are substantial.

  18. What’s truly being exposed here is a prostitution ring disguised as ” masseuses ” and using Instagram. What Watson believes is ” consensual ” may not be what the other person believes. It looks like he was a habitual problem of using ” masseuses ” as ” prostitutes ” and he can’t tell the difference between the encounters that went well and the ones that didn’t. Either way, prostitution is illegal in Texas.

    This was all filed in civil court and not criminal court so the women’s promiscuity cannot be called into question.

    Watson, for the love of God just settle and move on before this tears your life apart. You cannot dismiss 24 cases, by only dismissing 1. You get a year of suspension, you come back and get traded and you’re life is back on track. You can profess your innocent till you’re blue in the face, but the reality is you won’t win all of these and that outcome is even worse than settling.

  19. Some of these women aren’t masseuses and yet still agreed to go over to a rich NFL players home to perform a massage. There are plenty of flaws on the other side as well.

  20. tiredofcowards says:
    March 23, 2021 at 8:25 pm
    I find it odd that Florio is ok with the plaintiffs’ lawyer keeping their names out of it but Watson’s lawyer not naming who defends Watson’s character means his words ring hollow.
    ———————————————————————————————-
    Odd but not surprising considering his past actions and statements .

  21. Man when you are young, rich, and single; you need to take precautions especially when you are willingly putting yourself in compromising positions. Nanny cams, iPhone cams, and etc would end all this if used. I’m not saying video taping individuals is morally correct, but given the circumstances, I’ll bet he wished he had proof

  22. If you’re doing something illegal (and twisted), you always get caught, eventually.

  23. nydre4 says: “Some of these women aren’t masseuses and yet still agreed to go over to a rich NFL players home to perform a massage.”
    ——————

    Strange. The court filings say the plantiffs are LICENSED massage therapists and all are listed as “Jane Does” with only the exact time and location. That means only Deshaun Watson knows who the names of these victims based on when he hired them.

    So what information are YOU basing on that these women aren’t professional massage therapists?

  24. tiredofcowards says:
    March 23, 2021 at 8:25 pm
    I find it odd that Florio is ok with the plaintiffs’ lawyer keeping their names out of it but Watson’s lawyer not naming who defends Watson’s character means his words ring hollow.
    ———————————————————————————————-
    Odd but not surprising considering his past actions and statements .

    ‐————————————————

    Reason is Watson and the lawyer should know their name via dates and time.(if he doesn’t that implies he’s done this so many times he has no idea). Watson and his lawyer should name who is defending Watson character, because the character of the person giving it in this case matters(and is not fictional).

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