HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A grand jury on Friday began considering evidence gathered during a police investigation of sexual assault and harassment allegations against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The grand jury concluded to 9 no bills, meaning Watson will face no criminal charges.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office said in a statement:
"After a Harris County grand jury was presented all the evidence and had the opportunity to hear from all witnesses, grand jurors declined to indict Deshaun Watson. Grand jury proceedings are secret by law, so no information related to their inquiry may be disclosed."
"We are delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did. Deshaun Watson did not commit any crimes and is not guilty of any offenses. Now that the criminal investigations have been completed, we are happy to move forward with the civil case depositions. We will vigorously defend those cases with every ounce we have. There were no crimes here but there is a plaintiffs' attorney churning up negative press and churning up his clients hoping for a pay day. These cases have been the product of a lawyer maximizing his own personal publicity at the expense of others, including his own clients. It is time to let Deshaun move on," said Rusty Hardin, Watson's lead attorney.
Watson spoke out alongside Hardin for the first time since the sexual harassment allegations came forward.
"It's definitely a very emotional moment for me. I know we're far from being done of handling what we need to handle (on the legal side)," said Watson. "I thank my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for letting the truth be heard. I thank everyone that was a part of this. Seeing and hearing both sides, and that's what my point and my team wanted to do. Is having a fair slate of us telling our side of the story and letting the conclusion come down to what happened today (what the grand jury decided on)."
Watson continued to say he wants to rebuild his name and rebuild his "appearance in the community."
"Also, I'm ready to get back on the field. We've been prepping for that and ready to go," said Watson. "I'm going to continue to just keep pushing forward and build my name back to what it was, if not better."
The start of the grand jury's work came on the same day that attorneys for 22 women were set to begin questioning Watson during depositions that are part of lawsuits that they filed against him last year.
The women allege in their lawsuits that Watson exposed himself, touched them with his penis or kissed them against their will during massage appointments. One woman alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex.
Hardin said he welcomed the grand jury and hoped it would decline to indict the NFL star. Watson and his lawyers have denied the accusations. His lawyers have said "some sexual activity" happened during some of the massage appointments but that he never coerced anyone.
The first lawsuit against Watson was filed last March. The Harris County District Attorney's Office was presenting evidence and testimony to the grand jury from a Houston police investigation that began in April 2021 after a criminal complaint was filed. The FBI had also been reviewing the allegations against Watson.
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Ten women have made criminal complaints against Watson to police, according to Tony Buzbee, the main attorney for the 22 women who sued. Eight of those 10 women are represented by Buzbee and they have been subpoenaed to testify before the grand jury on Friday, he said.
"They will gladly be there,"' Buzbee said.
At the same time the grand jury was meeting at the Harris County criminal courthouse in downtown Houston, Buzbee led the deposition of Watson about a half mile away at the offices of Hardin's law firm.
Hardin said that Watson will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Watson will not answer questions in a deposition until the grand jury makes a decision, Hardin said.
The questioning of Watson by Buzbee was expected to last 45 to 50 hours over several days.
Most of the women who sued have already been deposed by Watson's attorneys. No civil trial date has been set for the lawsuits.
"My view is that if you did nothing wrong and are innocent, you should not be worried about incriminating yourself," Buzbee said. "My clients didn't plead the Fifth. Instead, they courageously testified under oath about what Deshaun Watson did to them."
Watson's lawyers have sought to balance their defense of the NFL star while simultaneously condemning sexual violence against women.
They have called the lawsuits against him a "money grab" and claimed that all 22 women who have filed suit are lying - a strategy some experts and advocates say relies on long-used tropes designed to minimize such accusations. Buzbee has said some of his clients have faced criticism and even death threats.
Even before the lawsuits were first filed, Watson had asked to be traded. The trade request and the lawsuits kept Watson out all last season.
The Texans were expected to try and trade Watson this offseason.
An NFL spokesperson told ABC13, "We have been closely monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Texans QB Deshaun Watson will not be indicted in sexual assault lawsuits
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