From the testimony of detective Kamesha Baker in the Deshaun Watson cases, three key points emerge

Deshaun Watson Press Conference
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Although Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was not indicted on any of 10 criminal complaints made against him, Houston Police Department detective Kamesha Baker testified last week that she believed based on her investigation that Watson committed multiple crimes. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports has obtained a copy of the Baker deposition transcript, which is not subject to any type of court order. He has analyzed it throughly.

Three important points stand out. They’re summarized below.

First, attorney Rusty Hardin’s questioning advances the misguided notion (as articulated last week by co-counsel Leah Graham) that the presumption of innocence applicable at trial also should apply in the investigative phase. Hardin and Graham essentially believe that, when a women makes a criminal complaint alleging sexual misconduct, the response by law enforcement should be skepticism and cynicism, not support and comfort.

Consider how, under Hardin’s and Graham’s view of the system, things would go if/when a woman makes a criminal complaint of sexual misconduct. “Sorry, ma’am, but we are required to presume that the accused is innocent, so you’d better have something more substantial than your own story of what happened.”

That’s just not how it works. Yes, it’s for the police to make a basic credibility assessment the accuser. That’s part of what the police are trained to do. And if the person making the complaint seems credible to those with the skill and experience in such matters, that’s enough to proceed. If the suspect chooses to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent, what are the police supposed to do? Abandon the case?

No, that makes no sense. But it makes plenty of sense that Hardin and Graham (and Watson) would want it that way. It provides the clearest path to their insistence that Watson did nothing wrong.

Second, Detective Baker’s testimony focused at times on the difference between consent and coercion. Baker argued that various facts inherent to the difference in size and stature of Watson and the women he hired on Instagram to provide him with private massages makes it difficult to consent. That any sexual activity that occurred could have indeed resulted from implicit concern about what would happen if the massage therapist declined Watson’s effort to pivot from massage to sexual encounter.

Third, the cases necessarily come down to the word of each woman against Watson because that’s how the massage sessions were structured. That’s apparently how Watson wanted these massages to proceed. Two people in the room. No one else. As a result, there was never a witness to corroborate the version of either participant.

If Watson was truly looking only for massages, his protection should have come not from a nondisclosure agreement supplied by the Texans’ director of security but from a third person who could break the tie if the massage therapist later claimed something inappropriate occurred. The circumstances that he arranged necessarily result in the cases boiling down to one person’s word against another’s. And Hardin, as part of his effort to prove that all 24 (soon to be 26 and eventually to perhaps be more) women are lying  suggests that the police — and everyone else — should just presume they are.

That’s why the raw number of accusations becomes relevant, and persuasive. If it was just one person, fine. But when it’s 24 or 26 and more, all of whom are telling basically the same story of a massage that went in a different direction, Watson’s reliance on talking points about never assaulting, never disrespecting, never doing anything wrong become harder to accept. Especially when considering Hardin’s claim from two weeks ago that there’s no crime in getting a “happy ending,” or in trying to.

These cases against Watson all flow from his alleged effort to try to make massages into sexual activity. All but three declined. The three who did apparently claim there was no true consent.

It’s impossible to ignore the raw numbers. If, as Hardin and Graham seem to believe, these cases are each meritless to the point of frivolous and were instigated by a Pied Piper who’s looking for a payday and prominence, there surely would be cracks in the foundation by now. Eighteen of the plaintiffs were poised to get (before fees and expenses) $100,000 each last year. They didn’t. Common sense says that at least one of them would be agitating for money that she thought she was getting last year, if this truly was about shaking cash out of Watson.

Hardin and Graham likely would argue that Buzbee has held the plaintiffs together with the promise that they’ll get more later. Again, common sense suggests that, if this really were one big ruse aimed at targeting Watson for “extortion” or whatever other term they’d use to describe the cases, someone would have stepped out of ranks or spoken out of turn by now. Instead, the ranks keep building — and the plaintiffs keep sticking together.

If they aren’t, and if Hardin and Graham want the league, the media, the fans, and ultimately the juries to know that, they need to be harvesting evidence to that effect and making it known to those in a position to spread the word. Instead, the only thing spreading is the raw number of cases pending against Watson.

Either he’s the victim of an unprecedented witch hunt against a rich and famous pro athlete, or he’s a predator. At this point, there’s no middle ground.

56 responses to “From the testimony of detective Kamesha Baker in the Deshaun Watson cases, three key points emerge

  1. I still believe where there is smoke, there’s fire. Could some women come forward and jump on the bandwagon that actually were no part of a crime? Sure. The MONEY-GRAB theory must be considered.
    But the biggest thing I cannot get past is the fact that D. Watson is a successful, rich, good-looking & well spoken young man that has “allegedly” asked a large number of massage therapists for sexual favors. If this is proven to be true, he really has a screw loose. Does he not realize that buying attractive women a nice dinner or at least a few drinks might get him where he wants to go? It is JUST – SO – WEIRD !!

  2. I’m struck by the people who defend Watson at this point. They don’t have a wife or a daughter, that’s possible- but they don’t have a mother? They don’t know a single woman in the world?

    24, 26 is just indefensible.

  3. I do not see any possible way that this many women would have come forward without there being predatory activity on the part of Watson. The NFL must take action or they have little ground to stand on for future suspensions. Calvin Ridley is suspended for a year for $1500 in bets? Watson deserves at least that long. The Browns made their own bed when they guaranteed Watson’s contract and now they get to lie in it.

  4. A lot of people are throwing the word ‘predator’ around in connection with Deshaun Watson. That’s because it fits.

  5. If you’re still supporting Watson you’re one of, or some combination of, stupid, stubborn or a sycophant. At best, this dude is creepy as can be. At worse, he’s a serial predator.

    And in sweet justice for non Browns fans, any SBs he does deliver (and I doubt he can deliver one) will be tainted.

  6. Every case is different and to assume each is legitimate (based on past known and similar cases) is just ignorant of real criminal investigative practices

  7. I’m definitely not sticking up for Watson, the dude obviously has a problem, I’m just wondering what the count would be if he was a dishwasher? No disrespect to dishwashers I was one myself.

  8. While I agree there is no presumed innocence by the police, the notion, that a man who is tall, rich and a celebrity can coerce a woman to have sex just because he is big, Black and rich makes me uncomfortable. In this instance a man didn’t ask to have sex , he was nice and encouraging when he heard about the woman’s business ambitions and the woman initiated the sexual activity. The man didn’t ask and didn’t physically force her. The idea that being big , famous and rich takes away a woman’s ability to consent is really appalling to me , an independent minded woman. Women can make up their minds about wanting to have sex in any situation. Plus , because a man didn’t ask and the sex was initiated by the woman, I can understand why the man thinks it’s consensual. I would also understand why any man in this situation would be shocked that he was being labeled as a sexual predator and why, only in this case, he believes ha did nothing wrong. This case should give any single man pause. Maybe because I’m middle aged, I believe I have a voice and if I’m with someone and I don’t want to have sex I say no . I get up and if he is not physically restraining me, I leave the room.
    I need to know how this interaction constitutes coercion.
    Deshaun Watson is guilty of being stupid by constantly putting himself in situations where others can sue him, but if this was one of the cases that went to the grand jury, then I completely understand why there were no charges and why Watson, in this case thinks he is innocent.

  9. In this case, it is both troubling and infuriating that the presumption of innocence also presumes that the victim is, if not complicit, then at fault.

  10. If all that is true then why wasn’t he indicted? Conjecture and speculation from the media and Joe Schmoe football fan is fine but what are the members of the grand jury saying? Was there a deliberate attempt to deceive by the prosecution (twice)? Did the grand juries hear all of the evidence?

    These are the questions that need to be answered, not his guilt or innocence. That should’ve came in a court of law, and two grand juries heard the evidence and did not indict. Why is that?

  11. There is no way Watson can settle these cases at this point. No way to trust that Buzbee won’t just find more and more accusers. The most suspicious part of this whole thing to me is how they all have the same lawyer. It would be very easy to coordinate their stories this way.

  12. Yeah…this guy doesn’t deserve just a suspension, I think he needs to be in prison. And failing that, excised like a tumor from the league. I don’t want to see this guys face again.

  13. “If it was just one person, fine.”

    So, if only 1 woman complained, it didn’t happen? Are you suggesting if there is only 1 victim/complaintant that her complaint should be dismissed Please elaborate.

  14. I multi millionaire superstar with the body of a Greek god. World wide fame. And this is what he chooses to do to get off. This man is a predator plain and simple and shouldn’t be allowed back in the league.

  15. No eye witness + no DNA + no video = no case = no criminal proof. $$ grab orchestrated by Buzbee of questionable “profession”

  16. Excellent analysis on all 3 points. The fact that Watson not only used photos exclusively (IG) to select his masseuse but had the massage done with no other persons in the room weighs heavily against him. The specious argument by his attorneys to counter 24+ accusations have little weight. The statement by the Brown’s ownership is laughable if it were not so tragic. It is no wonder many fans of the Browns are asking for a change. Watson is a predator who is using his wealth and prominence to manipulate the justice system. The Browns are complicit with a contract for Watson that attempts to negate a league imposed penalty. As such the proper discipline is a two year suspension at a minimum.

  17. I have been through bringing a complaint with a woman and have sat in police rooms while they mocked her. It is very hard for woman to come forward. The police stations more times than not are filled with men and the few woman in the business many times feel the need to comply with their peers in order to maintain or gain rank. I wasn’t surprised that there wasn’t a criminal trial, our justice system in this areas still fails its public.

  18. Testimony can be pretty compelling as evidence. I never wanted to believe the Michael Jackson stuff until I saw the documentary. I think a judge or jury could listen to 26 women tell their story and get a pretty good idea of whether or not the truth was being told.
    To me the big question is coercion. The fact that Watson is a bigger person is not enough to satisfy that element. Did he threaten these women? Did he force their hand on him, etc? If he merely requested sexual contact, although gross that’s not a crime. If there was something more he’s toast

  19. I think the Commissioner should put Watson on the exempt list until all sexual misconduct allegations have been dismissed. The Browns, or any NFL team, does not need a player wearing their uniform with alleged sexual misconduct allegations hanging over his head.

  20. and the silence and lack of action from the NFL grows louder and louder, are they beyond help ?? as Watson seems to be, he hasn’t done anything wrong ?? 26 with the same story ??

  21. Baker Mayfield isn’t going anywhere, it’s obvious the Browns will be needing his services this season.

  22. This article (thank you!) cuts through all of our biases to help us to see Watson’s INTENT from a legal perspective. If, much like his Brown’s contract structure, he was knowingly protecting himself from any legal accusation – again, that’s not a good look. Maybe Watson is innocent of all wrongdoing, but the more we begin to peel away the layers, the more this looks like intentional predatory behavior. Maybe not illegal… but future criminal cases can be filed. Even a single case could take him down.

  23. NFL needs to suspend this creep and keep him suspended until all of these cases are litigated……geeeeez
    The media needs to stop giving this predator a platform. Who believes that all of this lawsuits are bogus? Maybe be some but 24 cases?????
    Come on NFL, do something already.

  24. If it was only about money, Watsons team could have paid one accuser to blow it all up. Say it was all the attorneys doing, they all know they’re lying, etc. Instead they’re all standing together with incredibly similar stories.

  25. “Either he’s the victim of an unprecedented witch hunt against a rich and famous pro athlete, or he’s a predator. At this point, there’s no middle ground.”

    I got the feeling that the former is what is at play here and that there is a bandaid holding back the dam getting ready to burst all over Busby. Just a feeling, let’s wait and see.

  26. When this story first broke I gave Watson the benefit of doubt. But as the cases kept growing, building to the revelation that he contacted at least 66 different women for massages, I can’t help to believe that he should be clearly recognized as a predator and that his football career should be over.

  27. If Watson didn’t do or say anything to intimidate the women so that they felt they had no choice, I’m not sure there is a crime there. That may make him a creep but it doesn’t make him guilty of a crime. I don’t think I understand the points that are being made here. Him just being bigger and alone with the women is probably not enough for a grand jury. Did he block the door to prevent them from leaving? Did he grab someone’s arm? Did he tell them they couldn’t leave until they did what he wanted? I think more information is needed.

  28. This is a Deshaun Watson/Cleveland Browns problem right now and it could very well turn into an NFL problem if Roger Goodell botches this. The NFL has to limit the damage hit to their brand and the only way to do that with being fair to Watson is to put him on the exempt list until this entire matter is resolved. There is no way the league can rule on this for the sheer fact that accusers are still coming forward. If Watson is serious about clearing his name he will go to court and fight the allegations and if he is cleared, he comes back into the league with no penalty. If he is found guilty of some of these cases then the league will have to suspend him depending on the severity or number of cases he loses. If he just hurries up and settles them all, then as far as i’m concerned that’s an admission of guilt and a suspension will be handed down.

    Some people will say well what are the Browns supposed to do, if he goes to trial for all these cases he might not play until 2024. Oh well, the Browns bought their ticket, they knew what they were getting into and it’s on them.

    However, i’m sure the league is trying to get a handle on this and they are probably urging Watson to just settle so they can hand down a suspension so they all can move on and hopefully make this go away. Truthfully, the NFL wants nothing more than to look the other way on this case but Watson’s actions have made it impossible. I don’t think Roger has the stones to suspend him indefinetly and in all honestly, that wouldn’t be fair until these cases play out.

  29. To review the detective’s points: Point one: Hardin and Graham believe and have argued that investigators should presume Watson to be innocent just as a jury would. So what? Attorneys put forth all sorts of arguments, both sound and frivolous, to defend their clients. This “presumed innocent” argument is frivolous. Point two: Watson’s “size and stature” made it difficult for the plaintiffs to consent. So, the three who engaged in sex with Watson were so intimidated by Watson’s “size and stature” that they consented to sex even though they didn’t want to consent? OK. But what about the other 19 masseuses (of the original 22) who did not engage in sex. Apparently, they were not similarly intimidated. Point three: This is a “he said, she said” situation. True. It is.

  30. minime says:
    June 15, 2022 at 7:02 am
    He said.
    She said.
    All there is to it.

    No, it’s He said, She she she she she she she she she she she she (x26) said

  31. I object to the notion that presumption of innocence shouldn’t be maintained throughout the entire process. There’s at least a dozen examples in this thread alone as to why. Too many people in the court of public opinion convict without all (in some cases any of) the facts. Very few people change their opinion once that happens. It makes the legal process completely pointless. I’m not suggesting what Watson did\did not do is defensible. Nor am I suggesting that women shouldn’t come forward. But people need to understand that Watson is being charged with coercive and lewd sexual behavior and not more serious charges (again, I’m not trying to undermine the severity of the charges that were brought against him). Just keep that in mind before throwing out the “predator” label (or at least wait for all the facts to come out). Personally, I think Watson has a large hill to climb. With that many complainants he’s going to struggle mightily proving sexual contact was not intentional or willful.

  32. I hope all the women suing Watson, if shown that he was a predator, get ALL of his new contract money from him.

  33. >>>He said.
    She said.
    All there is to it.<<<

    No, it's:
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    She said.

  34. Why doesn’t Watson just “buy attractive women a nice dinner or at least a few drinks”, someone asked above. Because this is/was not about Watson seeking a date or even “just” a sexual encounter. It’s a power-trip played by sexual-predators. Just look at the similarities in all the cases. Florio is right: there is no middle ground left.

  35. Second question … with Watson already not playing for a year will (or should) that be counted against any possible suspension?

  36. The likelihood of 24-26 women would come forward, knowing the public scrutiny they would face, with generally the same story of assault is beyond unbelievable…Deshaun Watson will have to face the reality of his actions as will the Browns.

  37. The Browns owner and all his executives are complete morons for that trade and the contract. The Texans truly did sell the Brooklyn bridge to Hassen. PT Barnum was correct in his saying.

  38. So at what point does anyone start to mention Watson in the same sentence as Kellen Winslow II?
    I don’t mean that to sound flippant, I mean from the perspective of someone who has a disease, some sort of chronic impulse to corner a woman in a massage room for the purpose of sexual gratification. Is it the control? Is it a power dynamic?
    It certainly has all the earmarks of some sort of disorder.

  39. In his press conference, Deshaun kept placing emphasis on what he “didn’t” do. (His opinion) He never talked about what he ‘admitted’ to doing. When asked about whether the number of 66 women sounded right to him he stumbled and said he didn’t know. How doesn’t he know? At what number did he stop counting? Are we really supposed to believe he only had 3 ‘consensual’ encounters? A genuine sexual predator is staring everyone in the face.

  40. This is looking more and more to me like the middle ground of where a celebrity entitlement meets professionalism.

    If a celebrity figure (athlete/musician/movie star) feels entitled by their fame and fortune (some likely by having people treat them like a God since age 15 or 16 cause of being able to throw a ball, jump high and run fast), it is possible that much of the world responds to them positively. If Watson has had the life experience that people give him stuff cause of who he is, he may be well of the belief that when he goes into these experiences he will get extra favors.

    I find myself thinking of stories of notorious rock bands and groupies, certain athletic stars who were notorious for their sexual escapades and others who have interacted with the world in a way most of us can not comprehend.

    Now, Watson has found out that some rightfully push back on that dynamic. Still, even if he paid a million per plaintiff, his economic life would not be impacted. And likely, his athletic life wouldn’t be either. He would ultimately go into some counseling for his behavior and then blame the world for creating his ego.

    Then, he does well in sport and in 5 years we are all talking about his redemption tour.

    Look at Josh Gordon (also a Brown) who had numerous chances to get back into the league. Regardless of the decisions Gordon made, his athleticism kept him in the game. Same for Watson.

    Sad commentary on the world but here we are.

  41. To you cretins who still think this is a cash grab by the evil that is woman, answer this question for me: why did Watson never once hire a male masseuse? Hundreds of massages, never a man.

  42. If I’m Watson’s attorney, at this point my strategy would be to get a couple of these cases to trial. If or when this happens and if Hardin can embarass or destroy the accuser then the other women will quickly line up to get a settlement and all this will go away quickly. Prolonging this will only make things worse.

  43. golions1 says:
    June 15, 2022 at 7:20 am
    There is no way Watson can settle these cases at this point. No way to trust that Buzbee won’t just find more and more accusers. The most suspicious part of this whole thing to me is how they all have the same lawyer. It would be very easy to coordinate their stories this way.

    If you had a legal issue would you go to an attorney with experience in that issue, or someone whose practice is focused on other things? Specifically, if there is a common defendant and similar circumstances, wouldn’t you want an attorney who is already familiar with that defendant and circumstances?

    There is absolutely nothing suspicious about these victims using the same attorney. To the contrary, it is prudent for them to do so.

  44. Detective Baker assuming that Watson’s size etc. could intimidate a massage therapist to have sex is not a direction that helps the plaintiffs. The pervasive amount of predator like behavior in pursuing sex with massage therapists effects Watson’s credibility. If Watson wants to clear his name he needs to get back to playing as soon as possible to allow the public to view him in a positive way. Kobe Bryant did just that when he was accused of rape years ago! Kobe settled the civil suit against him!

  45. There are 24-26 law suits ,and possibly more, all from women telling a similar story. Watson always made sure there was no one else in the room to witness anything… and the sheer number of “massages” from all over the country? I’m going with predator. Is this someone that Goodell wants to represent “the shield”?

  46. To pkrlvr, I’m not a cretin, when I go for a massage it’s always with a woman and there’s no sexual intent with my decision, I’m just not comfortable having another guy putting his hands on me!

  47. If Watson was released right now, how many teams would be calling to sign him….more than a few I am sure.

  48. Ok a number of things here (and I am large and I have testified in court and at depositions).

    Being large and in decent shape (I’m about the size of a NFL linebacker) does have an intimidation factor. I had to represent my company in a case where the plaintiff (young male) had been very nasty and impolite to the female employees he had been dealing with. I was sent in to talk to him and our meeting went off very smoothly. The female manager he had been harassing was in the meeting said afterwards “He’s never that polite.” I responded “Look at the size difference between you and me.” AND YES he was smaller than I am by a good bit.

    When you find a good masseuse, and are employing them in an appropriate professional manner, you hang on to them. Having a good masseuse can prolong your ability to play and help you stay on the field week to week. You don’t change them like they were the flavor of the month.

    A local grand jury DIDN’T indict the starting QB of their local NFL team? Color me shocked. While we all know you can get a ham sandwich indicted in America we also all know of instances where local GJs (and even prosecutors) have failed to indict a local (or national) celebrity on charges where a plumber (especially a black one) would be looking at life in prison. Even when the evidence is as obvious as a smack in the head with a 2×4.

    If the criminal complaints had gone to trial we wouldn’t be dealing with this situation right now. Once that avenue was closed (double jeopardy) civil complaint is their only recourse. That doesn’t mean if we had been criminally convicted there still wouldn’t be civil complaints as that is the only way to collect damages.

    And the NFL is simply being a coward. I fully believe in innocent till proven guilty in a criminal court but the reality is if I had been accused of this kind of behavior my company would have fired my ass after 1 woman (never mind 26) and been well within their ‘at will’ rights to do so. Playing in the NFL is a job and a privileged one at that. The NFL should void the contract and ban Watson. They can say to him ‘As soon as this is over, if you are innocent, apply for reinstatement.’

    And I’d fine Cleveland for being STUPID. But that ain’t happening because your billionaire bosses don’t want it pointed out they are constantly stupid and be fined for it. The difference between you and me is they can afford stupidity and still be billionaires.

  49. commentor says:
    June 15, 2022 at 6:48 am
    Every case is different and to assume each is legitimate (based on past known and similar cases) is just ignorant of real criminal investigative practices

    There may be differences, but the cases are all more similar than not. The fact that there have been false accusations about sexual assault made in the past should never delegitimize an accuser.

    Florio’s point about an investigation not “presuming innocence” is basically saying that by presuming innocence, are the investigators then presuming that the accuser(s) is/are lying? That’s not the way to give either party proper respect. But, many cases have been botched by the police not taking things seriously and not investigating properly. Until fairly recently, a lot of missing children cases were written off by police as “runaways” and were never properly investigated.

  50. Desean booked appointments with 66 different women from 2019 to 2021. I don’t need any more information than that. If you’re truly searching for quality massage therapy, and you have NFL money, you find a couple local therapists you like and stick with them. In my opinion there is only one reason you would cycle through that many women. It seems really obvious.

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