Rusty Hardin’s effort to legitimize “happy endings” will reverberate through each of the 23 pending lawsuits against Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the plaintiffs, told John Barr of ESPN.com that Hardin “may have single-handedly lost his client’s case because I’m absolutely going to use that comment because I think it speaks volumes to how he, his team and his client think about the massage industry.”
Added Buzbee: “If you’re in the massage industry, according to Rusty Hardin, that’s to be expected. And apparently that’s what his client expected. I promise you that’s not what any of these women expected.”
Hardin said in a Houston radio appearance that “happy endings” aren’t illegal unless extra money is paid or them. Hardin also said that it’s not a crime to do or say things that make someone else uncomfortable.
Those comments arguably go to the heart of the claims against Watson. The plaintiffs will argue that Watson wanted massages to turn sexual, and that he tried to make that happen. They’ll argue that his efforts crossed the line into civil liability.
And Buzbee is absolutely right on one key point. The comments Hardin made on the radio, along with his effort to clean things up with a statement issued late Friday afternoon, convey an attitude that men should expect massages to sometimes become sexual. That’s obviously not what massages are supposed to be.
As a result of that attitude, men (like Watson, arguably) line up massages and hope that they will take a turn from massage to something else. Watson arguably tried to make those things happen. The nonchalance with with this admission was made will make Buzbee’s cases a little bit easier to prove.