It has been widely assumed that the March 11 decision of a Houston grand jury to not indict Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson means he’ll never face criminal prosecution for any of the events related to a habit of pursuing massage therapists via social media and having some of the encounters turn sexual. That may not be the case.
First, the complaints can be presented to a grand jury again, as long as the statute of limitations has not expired. Jeopardy doesn’t attach until the jury is empaneled at the trial. At the grand jury stage, charges can be pursued on multiple occasions.
Second, the federal government could get involved, if it believes that Watson specifically paid to bring someone across state lines for the purposes of sexual encounters. Attorney Tony Buzbee has tried to instigate such an investigation in the past. By all appearances, it has gotten no traction.
However, the Department of Justice usually doesn’t take out a billboard regarding its investigations. It’s still possible that the feds could pursue the matter. It’s possible that they secretly are.
Watson’s legal team is confident that he’s in the clear. Otherwise, attorney Rusty Hardin wouldn’t have allowed Watson to testify in depositions related to the 22 civil cases after the grand jury decided nine days ago to not charge him.
None of this means that anything else will happen. But the door hasn’t been conclusively closed on a potential prosecution, state or federal.