Exclusive: Deshaun Watson Accusers Will Be Questioned Under Oath Starting Today
As Deshaun Watson sits on the sidelines, questions remain over the Texans Quarterback’s future with the team and the league. While the sum and substance of ongoing criminal investigations remain under wraps, more than twenty-two civil lawsuits against Watson are moving forward today.
Watson’s attorneys will begin depositions of his accusers today, questioning one woman a day spread out over the next several weeks.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee told League of Justice that he has asked for dates to take Watson’s deposition but still has not been provided with any from Watson’s lawyers. He said he will have to ask the court “to force them to provide dates” and told League of Justice he intends to use his “full forty plus hours” that he has been allotted to question Watson.
The recorded testimony from the depositions can be used in legal papers and in court in the event of a trial. Oftentimes, statements made under oath in depositions are used in court to impeach a witness when that person takes the stand.
Any contradictions or discrepancies between their testimony in sworn depositions and their later testimony in court can be used to question the person’s credibility as jurors work to determine what is fact and what is fiction.
Buzbee says Watson’s team has been “very slow in taking the plaintiff depositions, even though the scheduling order allowed them to start them in October.”
It’s unclear if the delay was due to recent attempts by Watson’s team to settle the claims before the November trade deadline.
Despite rumors that numerous teams expressed interest in Watson in advance of the recent trade deadline, including the Miami Dolphins, the Quarterback was not traded before November 2nd. While some attribute the lack of a trade to the high premium the Texans placed on the star QB, others attribute it to the legal uncertainty surrounding his civil cases and the ongoing criminal investigations.
Buzbee said that Watson’s camp tried to settle all of the civil suits in advance of the trade deadline, but the sides disagreed over the use of non-disclosure agreements. Ultimately, no settlements were reached and interested teams did not take the gamble on Watson, reportedly because of the uncertainty of his playing status.
Watson is facing various allegations of sexual assault and harassment from more than twenty women and ten women have allegedly filed complaints with the Houston Police Department.
League of Justice broke the news back in August that there was an FBI investigation into the matter, which was confirmed by Watson’s attorney the following day. It’s unclear what the nature of the federal investigation is and the FBI, as per its protocol, will neither confirm nor deny its existence.
Watson has repeatedly denied the allegations against him and his attorney Rusty Hardin released information that he claims calls into question the credibility of many of the women, including text messages and testimonials from other massage therapists.
Back in March, the NFL opened an investigation into the matter, which is delayed due to the alleged criminal investigations. Earlier this month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league won’t place Watson on the Commissioner’s exempt list, which is akin to paid leave, because it doesn’t have enough information to make that determination.
The NFL’s policy is generally to wait for criminal investigations to conclude, and to steer clear of interfering with any ongoing police work. Furthermore, the league normally waits for a formal charge or indictment before placing someone accused of sexual assault on the Commissioner’s exempt list.
Watson has not been charged criminally with anything. His civil suits could drag on for a year, or even many years, if they are not settled.
In the meantime, Watson is still being paid by the Texans, although he is not playing. It is unlikely that he will be back on the field this season.
Back in January, Watson requested a trade, less than six months after signing a four-year extension which runs through 2025 and is worth $156 million dollars.
The timeline matches up with information from Buzbee indicating that in January/February Buzbee was in touch with Watson’s representatives regarding one accuser’s allegations against the QB.
Those settlement attempts also broke down and the accuser, Ashley Solis, ended up publicly coming forward in an emotional press conference. Shortly after, more than twenty additional women filed civil lawsuits against Watson, most of them are represented by Buzbee.