Some women who settled lawsuits vs. Deshaun Watson to attend game

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Tuesday, November 29, 2022
ESPN

HOUSTON -- With nearly all of the more than two dozen lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson having been settled, most of the women who accused the Cleveland quarterback of sexual misconduct have no interest in his return to Houston on Sunday and just want to move on with their lives, according to their attorney.

Attorney Tony Buzbee said about 10 of the women who accused Watson of sexual harassment and assault during massages are planning to attend Sunday's game at Houston's NRG Stadium, where the Browns will take on the Texans, and watch him play in his return from an 11-game suspension.

"Some of my clients asked to go," Buzbee, who will also attend the game, told ESPN on Tuesday. "They thought it important to make clear that they are still here and that they matter."

Some of the women really want to attend the game "to kind of make the statement, 'Hey, we're still here. We matter. Our voice was heard, and this is not something that's over. [Sexual harassment and assault] happen every day in the United States,'" Buzbee also said Tuesday.

The women declined to comment ahead of Sunday's game, he said.

An NFL spokesperson also did not immediately reply to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Watson was still with the Texans when more than 20 women alleged he exposed himself, touched them or kissed them against their will during massage therapy sessions. One woman alleged that Watson forced her to have oral sex.

Twenty-five women represented by Buzbee filed lawsuits. One woman dropped her lawsuit when required to amend her claim to include her name to proceed, and 23 others settled their cases in August. In July, 30 women who had accused the Texans of turning a blind eye to allegations against their former star quarterback settled their legal claims against the team.

Watson, who was traded to the Browns in March, has long denied any wrongdoing, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him.

"I think it's important to note each of these women is different," Buzbee told ESPN on Tuesday. "... I would never encourage any of them to attend. Some never want to hear Watson's name again. Others have put it in the past. Some are still angry. Others are defiant. Makes me proud they want to stand up and be counted rather than quietly go away."

Rusty Hardin, Watson's lead attorney, declined to comment on Watson's return to Houston, citing confidentiality agreements from the settled lawsuits.

One woman represented by Buzbee, Lauren Baxley, declined to settle, and he expects the case will go to trial. Baxley will not be attending the game Sunday.

The latest pending lawsuit was filed last month by a woman who alleges that Watson pressured her into oral sex.

ESPN's John Barr and The Associated Press contributed to this report.