The grand jury considering the nine criminal complaints against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson ultimately decided not to charge him in any case. According to Jenny Vrentas and Kevin Draper of the New York Times, the grand jury ultimately heard testimony from only one of the alleged victims.
Per the Times, “several” of the women were present and ready to testify. A source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT that five of the women were there.
According to PFT’s source, the prosecutor presented evidence regarding all nine claims to the grand jury. The grand jury ultimately wanted to hear directly from one of them.
Two of the cases presented a higher potential of an indictment. None of the nine resulted in the grand jury charging Watson.
Watson’s camp had been quietly optimistic that the allegations against, even if accepted as true, did not amount to crimes. The grand jury apparently agreed.
As we’ve previously explained, indictments often hinge on the zeal applied by the prosecutor. If the prosecutor wants to indict a suspect, it’s not hard to do — since the defendant has no representation in the process. If the prosecutor doesn’t want to indict a suspect, it’s also not hard to do. The prosecutor controls what is and isn’t presented, and a skilled prosecutor can nudge a grand jury in a desired direction.
So why wouldn’t the prosecutor in this case not want an indictment of Watson? Possibly, she truly believed no crimes had been committed. It’s also possible that she believed she would not be able to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial, even if she believed that Watson had crossed the line.
There’s a fundamental difference between factual guilt and legal guilt. Plenty of people are factually guilty, but the court system can’t prove that they are legally guilty. As to Watson, the criminal process has ended. On the civil side, 22 cases remain. In one or more of those cases, a jury eventually could conclude that he violated the legal rights of the women who are suing him, under the much lower legal standard of preponderance of the evidence.