Deshaun Watson's lawyer says 1 of 16 claims against QB was 'consensual'

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Tony Buzbee, the attorney who has been retained by now 16 women who have accused Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is striking back at the NFL star's attorney.

Buzbee's social media post is the latest response after Watson's attorney stated that in at least one of the claims Watson was being blackmailed over a "consensual encounter."

In a statement issued late Tuesday afternoon, with 16 civil lawsuits filed against Watson, Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who represents the 25-year-old, said his legal team has "strong evidence" showing that one of the claims alleged to have happened this past January is false.

"A woman attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in exchange for her 'indefinite silence' about what she stated was a consensual encounter," Hardin's statement read. "This calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well."

Hardin also took aim at Tony Buzbee, the attorney who has been retained by now 16 women who have accused Watson.

"Opposing counsel has orchestrated a circus-like atmosphere by using social media to publicize (16) 'Jane Doe' lawsuits during the past seven days in a manner calculated to inflame the public and malign Deshaun's otherwise sterling reputation," Hardin stated.

Just hours after Hardin's response, Buzbee took to social media to say that, "attempting to criminalize or minimize those that speak out or step forward is wrong."

Buzbee added that he was asked to respond to the statement made by Hardin in the case.

"I do appreciate Mr. Hardin's professionalism and his words of support for victims, but would respectfully suggest there are many facts here, that we will put in public filings, that Mr. Hardin might not be aware of," Buzbee wrote on his Facebook.

Earlier Tuesday, three new lawsuits were filed against Watson. Six were filed just on Monday, and seven were filed before that since the previous Tuesday.

In one of the lawsuits filed today, a woman described Watson as a "serial predator." In this claim, the woman alleges that Watson "assaulted and harassed Plaintiff by exposing himself to her and touching her with his penis."

The incident allegedly took place in California.

The traveling massage therapist alleges that when she arrived at the address Watson gave her, he led her to a room and "locked the doors behind him." After Watson allegedly "forced Plaintiff's hand onto his penis" during the massage, he allegedly told her, "I will not have you sign a NDA but don't ever talk about this."

The plaintiff also alleges that Watson reached out on Instagram in December "acting as if nothing had happened."

SEE ALSO: Details involving the 13 other lawsuits against Watson

Watson has denied wrongdoing, and his attorney Rusty Hardin said Friday that the allegations against the quarterback are "meritless."

"I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect," Watson said in a statement he posted on Twitter on March 16.

Buzbee, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said in an Instagram post on Saturday that he would submit affidavits and evidence from several women to the Houston Police Department and the Houston district attorney Monday morning. He also said he will request that a grand jury consider the evidence and determine whether charges should be brought against Watson by the state of Texas.

Dane Schiller, a spokesperson for the Harris County district attorney, said Monday that it would be "inappropriate" for the DA's office to comment on the lawsuits against Watson.

"It would be inappropriate for the District Attorney's Office to comment on a civil lawsuit, and we refrain from publicly discussing allegations in any matter until and if a criminal charge is filed; we do this out of fairness to all," Schiller said in a statement.

Last week, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said "the matter is under review" pertaining to the league's personal conduct policy, and the Texans said in a statement that they would stay in close contact with the NFL during its investigation.

WATCH: Tony Buzbee offers insight into lawsuits against Deshaun Watson
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DESHAUN WATSON ALLEGATIONS: The high-profile attorney who has filed at least seven civil lawsuits against the star Texans QB reveals more legal movement is coming. WARNING: Graphic details contained in the video.



Read the statement by Rusty Hardin, Deshaun Watson's attorney

I want to emphasize at the outset that we and Deshaun recognize that sexual assault and harassment are not only unlawful, but morally wrong. It takes courage for women to come forward to report being mistreated, particularly when they attach their names to a lawsuit. We do not take these allegations lightly. However, fairness to the accused is equally as important.

Opposing counsel has orchestrated a circus-like atmosphere by using social media to publicize 14 "Jane Doe" lawsuits during the past seven days in a manner calculated to inflame the public and malign Deshaun's otherwise sterling reputation. In addition, the tactic of refusing our requests to confidentially provide the names of the plaintiffs so we can fully investigate their claims makes uncovering the truth extremely difficult. Anonymity is often necessary as a shield for victims but opposing counsel has used it as a sword to publicly humiliate Deshaun before the truthseeking process can even begin.

I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false. And in the one case in which we have been able to identify a plaintiff, we have strong evidence showing the allegation is false. In January of this year, a woman attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in exchange for her "indefinite silence" about what she stated was a consensual encounter. It is our belief this woman is the plaintiff in Cause No. 2021-15613. (Please see the declaration by Bryan Burney below.) This calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well.

We have received numerous unsolicited comments in the past week from many licensed massage therapists who have worked with Deshaun in recent years. These women describe him as a gentleman and a model client who never engaged in inappropriate conduct. Indeed, before these salacious claims, everyone who associated with Deshaun described him as an outstanding, respectful, and compassionate man.

Again, we are taking the allegations very seriously and we ask only that people not rush to judgment, that people not be unduly influenced by opposing counsel's antics, and that they let fundamental fairness to both sides rule the day. Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Read Tony Buzbee's complete response to Rusty Hardin:

Alleged sexual misconduct is serious. Attempting to criminalize or minimize those that speak out or step forward is wrong. I have been asked to respond to a released statement by Mr. Watson's counsel.

My first reaction is that there have been so many massage sessions from Instagram that Mr. Watson can't keep track of them-recall he, on Twitter, initially criticized me and denied everything. I can't tell you how many people have stepped forward to report similar conduct or provide information. That info will be released, again in public filings-not in the media. My second reaction is a question: why would his marketing agent admit Watson had sex for pay with a massage therapist, consensual or otherwise? We will also provide a copy of the non-disclosure agreement that Deshaun Watson and his marketing manager repeatedly insisted that Jane Doe (and others) sign after (and sometimes before) the "massage session," which she refused to sign. I do appreciate Mr. Hardin's professionalism and his words of support for victims, but would respectfully suggest there are many facts here, that we will put in public filings, that Mr. Hardin might not be aware of. We will provide additional details in a statement, consistent with our ethical obligations in due course. I'm hoping we can do so by Friday.


READ LAWSUITS IN FULL:
The lawsuits contain explicit language that can be considered graphic. Viewer discretion is advised.


ESPN contributed to this report.
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