NFL investigating misconduct allegations against Deshaun Watson

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- In the midst of multiple civil misconduct lawsuits against Deshaun Watson, the NFL appears to be launching an investigation of its own to into the Houston Texans star quarterback.

Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who says he has been retained by nine women who accuse Watson of sexual misconduct, posted contents of a letter from an NFL special counsel for investigations in a now-deleted Instagram post.

The confidential letter informs Buzbee of a league investigation into whether the allegations amounted to a violation of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy.

"I am writing to let you know that the League has opened an investigation into these allegations and to request the cooperation of your clients in our investigation," special counsel Lisa Friel writes in the letter.

In a now-deleted Instagram post, attorney Tony Buzbee informed followers that Deshaun Watson is under review of the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy. (Screen capture)



As reported by ESPN's Sarah Barshop, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy on Thursday said "the matter is under review" of the league's personal conduct policy, and the Texans said they would stay in close contact with the NFL during the league's investigation.

The letter comes on the heels of details coming to light from a third lawsuit, which, like the two before it, was from allegations by a massage therapist.

On Tuesday evening, Watson responded to the first lawsuit filed by Buzbee on behalf of a massage therapist accusing the football player of indecent assault. A second lawsuit surfaced on Wednesday, and by Thursday morning, the third lawsuit had come to light.

In the most recent suit, the massage therapist says Watson scheduled a session with her at an office building in Houston on the morning of Dec. 28, 2020. The lawsuit claims that the therapist was "terrified" of Watson, due to his much larger body size. She claims that Watson forced her to perform oral sex on him, and that she "blacked out for a few minutes from the fear."

Since the alleged incident, the woman has reportedly suffered from panic attacks, depression and anxiety, and has trouble sleeping.

The lawsuits allege that Watson "committed civil assault" when touching a massage therapist with his penis and that he "intentionally or knowingly caused physical contact with Plaintiff when Watson knew, or should have reasonably known, that Plaintiff would regard such contact as offensive."

RELATED: Deshaun Watson accused by masseuse of exposing himself

The first lawsuit accuses Watson of exposing himself to a massage therapist a year ago. The suit, filed Tuesday in Harris County, claims Watson assaulted the massage therapist during a session at her home in March 2020.

After leaving the room, the massage therapist alleges, she returned to find Watson lying on the massage table with just a small towel covering his groin area.

The lawsuit says the plaintiff "began to feel extremely uncomfortable" and "it became apparent that Watson wanted a massage for only one reason -- sex." It accuses Watson of exposing himself and subsequently touching the woman.

In that lawsuit, the massage therapist alleges that after she asked Watson to leave, the quarterback made a statement that she considered to be a threat. The lawsuit also says Watson later texted her to apologize.

Watson posted a message on his social media platforms on Tuesday, denying the wrongdoing.

"As a result of a social media post by a publicity-seeking plaintiff's lawyer, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me. I have not yet seen the complaint, but I know this: I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect. The plaintiff's lawyer claims this isn't about money, but before filing the suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected. Unlike him, this isn't about money for me - it's about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that."



The second lawsuit says, "Watson's behavior is part of a disturbing pattern of preying on vulnerable women."

Watson reportedly reached out to a masseuse based in Georgia through Instagram on Aug. 14, 2020. The suit states Watson sent the masseuse messages on the app, told her exactly what he was looking for and an appointment was made for Aug. 28.

The session was scheduled to take place at the Houstonian Hotel, Club and Spa, where Watson told the woman he had his own suite. The suit states Watson flew the masseuse from Atlanta, Georgia to Houston. During the session, the woman says she became uncomfortable with some of Watson's requests but that she "wanted to give Watson the benefit of the doubt and she needed the business and the money as a single mom of two children."

When the masseuse ignored one of Watson's requests, the suit states he became more aggressive. The woman said she became more and more uncomfortable she eventually stopped the massage and told Watson she needed to leave.

The woman says she was so disturbed by the incident she did not reach out to Watson to seek the other half of the payment he owed.

A few months after the incident, Watson reportedly reached out to the woman saying he was in Atlanta and asked if she was available, but she did not respond.

According to the lawsuit, the woman is seeking minimal compensation but noted she suffered mental anguish as a result of the NFL star's behavior and is seeking counseling.

The Houston Texans released a statement Wednesday, after the first lawsuit came to light.

"We became aware of a civil lawsuit involving Deshaun Watson through a social media post last night," said Texans director of communications Omar Majzoub. "This is the first time we heard of the matter, and we hope to learn more soon. We take accusations of this nature that involve anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously. We will await further information before making any additional statements on this incident.

READ LAWSUITS IN FULL:
The lawsuits contain explicit language that can be considered graphic. Viewer discretion is advised.
Lawsuit 1: Allegations from March 2020
Lawsuit 2: Allegations from Aug. 2020
Lawsuit 3: Allegations from Dec. 2020

ESPN contributed to this report.
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