March 18th 2022 Deshaun Watson agrees to waive his no trade clause and be traded to the Cleveland Browns. With the trade agreement the Cleveland Browns agreed to give Watson a new 5 year 230 million dollar contract. This came with much scrutiny.
24 Civil Lawsuits
Originally facing 22 civil lawsuits Watson will now be facing 24 civil suits. Within the last week there have been two more lawsuits filed against quarterback Deshaun Watson. These lawsuits are alleging sexual misconduct and wrong doing. Sexual misconduct and wrong doing has been alleged but with no criminal ramifications. Two grand juries in March decided not to press criminal charges against the quarterback. Deshaun Watson and his lawyer Rusty Hardin claim all acts were consensual. While there are 24 women alleging wrong doing there are 19 that say otherwise. Those women in support say Watson was very respectful and professional. One even said she helped him carry her equipment to the car after their appointment. While another says it was late after an appointment and Watson even texted her to insure she got home safely.
Criminal vs Civil Lawsuits
Civil lawsuits occur when individuals have a disagreement involving what legal responsibilities they may or may not have with each other. Civil Lawsuits determines who’s liable. That comes with a monetary value attached to it. Criminal lawsuits, however, involve felonies and misdemeanor to specific crimes with punishment attached.Deshaun Watson now faces 24 civil suits to determine who’s liable. In a civil case no one is proven innocent or guilty.
New York TIMES Article
On June 7th 2022 the New York Times published an article that delve much deeper into the Deshaun Watson case as a whole. The article stated that Watson had massages from about 66 different therapists in a 17 month period. According to this article his former team Houston Texans enabled this alleged behavior by providing hotel rooms and give Watson NDA’s for the therapists to sign. There are screen shots of messages he sent women on instagram seeking these massages.In those messages what was found on the end of Watson was that he suggested he was trying to support black businesses. One of the alleged victims says he purchased 40 bottles of her skin care cream that cost $150 per bottle. A spa owner stated that Deshaun even gave her $5,000 for equipment to help her shop.
Cleveland Browns Research
The Cleveland Browns investigation of Deshaun Watson dates back to November of 2021. From early reports that the Browns may be players in trying to land quarterback Deshaun Watson, the team hired private investigators to look into the case. From November 2021 until March 2022 the Browns launched this investigation. During the introductory press conference in March the Browns claimed the investigation was to become comfortable with Deshaun the person. If they did not feel comfortable with him as a human being the trade would not have taken place. Owner Jimmy Haslam later said that he met with Cleveland Browns female employees to gauge the comfort level of them with Deshaun Watson possibly being in the building. Haslam also said he gave his daughter and wife/ co-owner Dee Haslam veto power over the trade. It is note worthy to say that Dee is the president of the ethics committee for the NFL. The one area the Browns did not cover in the investigation was meeting with the alleged victims. The reasoning, they did not want to interfere with an ongoing criminal/civil case.
The National Football League has been doing an investigation of the Deshuan Watson civil cases for over a year. This investigation is to find if Watson has violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy or not. According to the NFL’s policy “it is not enough simply to avoid being found guilty of a crime. We are all held to a higher standard and must conduct ourselves in a way that is responsible, promotes the values of the NFL, and is lawful.” Most commonly known the league wants to protect the shield at all costs. Bad public relations is not acceptable in the eyes of NFL regardless or criminal charges or not. The personal conduct policy specifically speaks to Watsons situation here. Noted in the policy it reads Players convicted of a crime or subject to a disposition of a criminal proceeding (as defined in this Policy) are subject to discipline. But even if the conduct does not result in a criminal conviction, players found to have engaged in any of the following conduct will be subject to discipline.
In such situation like this, the NFL has been inconsistent with the discipline that it hands out. Notably how Clavin Ridley has been suspended for a year because of gambling on games. He bet which is equal to the amount of $1,500 on games. Those bets that were placed on his team the Atlanta Falcons to win games. With said inconsistencies the league finds itself like stated trying to hold themselves and players at a higher standard. The National Football League is not a legal institution. So therefore holding higher standards than some leagues or institutions can come off as hypocritical.
Watsons Next Moves
For the duration of this process Deshaun Watson has claimed his innocence. He says he did nothing wrong to the victims and did force or coerce women to do anything they did not consent too doing. Understanding how strongly he feels and claims his innocence Deshaun should consider settling the cases. All parties involved with these civil cases would benefit tremendously if a settlement is reached. This entire situation has been messy and very inconsistent on both sides. In a he said she said situation its hard for facts to be found truly. With they’re not being a criminal aspect it’s even harder to get to the truth. Neither side wants to admit to wrongdoing on its side. Deshaun is losing the PR battle and losing it bad. He should settle and accept any reasonable suspension from the league. Take initiative by saying that I will go therapy( needed or not) it will go a long way.
Within the last week I believe the PR battle has taken an even greater turn for the worst. The HBO special that came out a few weeks ago. Along with the New York times article, then two more civil cases being added and now finally the Houston Texans being added to the civil lawsuit. The NFL, Cleveland Browns and Rusty Hardin should have a conversation with Deshaun Watson and say it’s ok to settle. What we need to is begin the repairing process through all of this. Likely being drawn out over years to come I do not believe without a settlement this will end any time soon. I am not a legal expert here, but I think at a certain point a case like this could be a candidate to be thrown out of court. For the reason of neither side is willing to give an inch. It would be best for both sides to go their separate ways with no further contact from here.