Exclusive: Judge Orders Team USA Massage Therapist Who Massaged Deshaun Watson 40 Times & Came to His Defense to Reveal Whether Watson is Paying Her Legal Fees.

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, a Judge overseeing the Deshaun Watson discovery phase of a case involving twenty-two civil complaints filed against the Texans Quarterback issued a ruling in favor of his accusers. The ruling concerned a contentious moment that occurred during depositions with one of his longtime massage therapists who publicly defended Watson.

Jasmine Brooks, one of eighteen massage therapists to issue statements in defense of Watson back in March was deposed on December 17th by Tony Buzbee, the attorney for the women accusing Watson of various forms of sexual harassment and assault. But things got heated between Buzbee and Brooks’ lawyer when Buzbee asked her who was paying her legal fees.

The tense exchange began when Buzbee specifically asked, “who’s paying for your lawyer?” Brooks’ attorney Cordt Akers responded, “we’re not going to be talking about that.” Buzbee snapped back that if Akers instructed Brooks not to answer, he would ask the judge to force her to answer.

Akers curtly replied, “understood,” presumably not caring about the threat. Buzbee then asked, “are you instructing her not to answer?” To which Akers said, “I am,” essentially challenging Buzbee in a way that sounds like a flip of the bird.

Buzbee then rephrased the question to Brooks, asking, “Are you paying for your lawyer?” Again, Akers interjected, “instruct her not to answer.” Buzbee doubled down asking, “Is Deshaun Watson paying for your lawyer?” Akers again replied, “instruct her not to answer.”

Buzbee then tried one more time, asking, “Do you know who’s paying for your lawyer?” Akers again instructed Brooks not to answer the question and she followed her attorney’s advice, according to transcripts from the deposition.

The stonewalling prompted Buzbee to make good on his promise and file a motion with the court to compel Brooks to answer the questions. Buzbee wrote to the court that, “payment to a lawyer is discoverable to show witness bias, which is the issue at hand in this case.” If in fact Watson is paying Brooks’ legal fees, Buzbee will likely accuse her of being biased and perhaps even financially motivated and try to discredit her statement supporting Watson.

It appears that Buzbee will likely employ the same strategy with all of the eighteen women who, according to Watson’s attorney, “voluntarily” defended him. Buzbee is clearly trying to undermine Rusty Hardin’s claim that any of those statements were voluntary or reliable.

Monday, the Judge ruled that Brooks has ten days to submit a sworn statement answering the following questions: 1) are you paying for your lawyer, 2) do you know who is paying for your lawyer and 3) who is paying for your lawyer. The order concluded that Akers “improperly instructed his client not to answer.”

Akers works for the Cogdell Law Firm in Houston, Texas which recently worked in close proximity with Watson’s attorney on another unrelated defense matter as recently as 2020. The case involved a group of chemical plant executives who were criminally charged when a hurricane knocked out power to facilities, causing chemical explosions. The execs were indicted for the reckless release of toxic chemicals, but the case was ultimately dismissed. In a press release promoting the victory, Hardin wrote that Akers and the Cogdell Law Firm also represented the various defendants in the case.

In terms of Watson’s cases, casting doubt on Brooks’ impartiality could prove important for Buzbee and Watson’s accusers if any of the cases go to trial. Brooks became an important witness to the Watson case, after text messages sent from Brooks to her close friend ended up leaked. The texts, pasted below, read in part, Brooks: “I told you I stopped working with him?” Her friend replied, “yea why.” Brooks responded, “Bc I was hearing too much stuff about him messing with other people. Like other therapist and estheticians. He been doing a lot the last 3-4 months. And I even told his a** he needed to be careful Bc his name getting around. I just hope don’t nobody call me to question me.”

Alleged text sent from Jas Brooks to a friend

After Buzbee leaked the texts to the press, Brooks took to social media to defend herself and say her words were taken out of context.

“Hey guys, I’m sure many of you are aware of the recent news regarding Deshaun Watson, an athlete I formerly worked with, and may have heard my name mentioned in evidence manipulated to be used against him.,” she wrote. “The following post serves as my statement regarding the allegations and misinformation that has been circulating around the media.”

The post read:

“The message thread is a conversation between myself and one of my closest friends. I simply shared that I had already stopped working with Deshaun, for reasons unrelated to his current pending case(s), and that the last few months I had been hearing various things from another therapist who has also worked on him numerous times. However, none of those reasons included any of these accusations he’s facing now, as I had no knowledge of any of those allegations prior to the news break.I do not know any of the victims personally, nor was the correspondence a shared conversation between a victim and myself. I am unsure how my text to a friend got taken out of context, sent around, and used for this situation. Buzbee is playing a very dirty game and manipulating words to work in the favor of his clients. This deceptive use of my unrelated conversation does not change the fact that I haven’t had a bad experience with Deshaun Watson. In my three years of working with him he has always been professional. My reasons for ending our professional relationship were simply due to my personal preference of not liking to work behind other therapists—as many of us don’t. Additionally, I have other work and clients that took priority over my shared treatment of Watson, and thought it best his other therapists take over. As far as the esthetician, there was an esthetician in September that posted Watson’s phone number on her public Instagram page. My warning to Deshaun was that he needs to be more careful with whom he works with because he doesn’t know everybody’s intentions and some people will use his name for publicity, just as they are now.”

Brooks later joined seventeen other women and issued statements defending Watson, that were released by Hardin. The announcement from Hardin describes Brooks as “a licensed massage therapist in Texas with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in kinesiology from Texas Southern University. She is certified in lymphatic drainage massage, prenatal massage, oncology massage, decompression (cupping),Graston technique and cryotherapy” and a “medical staff member for Team USA track and field.”

Brooks’ statement read:

I began providing massage therapy to Deshaun in 2018 and have massaged him at least 40 times since then. I worked with him once or twice a week during the season and as needed during the off season. Early on, he said he wanted me to focus on his hamstrings (he had a trainer that worked on his upper body) and just to work the lactic acid out of his legs. This included the groin, glutes and feet. He never asked me any questions and hardly ever spoke at all. In all that time, I never had a single uncomfortable or inappropriate experience with Deshaun.”

Given that Watson was allegedly massaged by more than forty women, the case against him could come down to a battle of the massage therapists moving forward. Hardin already was able to gather nearly as many women who massaged Watson to defend him, as the number of women accusing him. Hearing nearly twenty women defend Watson as more than twenty women accuse him, could confuse jurors. Therefore, the credibility of the women who take the stand, if the case ever goes to trial, could prove critical to the outcome.

Watson is presently being paid to sit on the sidelines for the Texans as rumors heat up about a possible trade ahead of a new March deadline. Despite the allegations against him and the fact that there is an ongoing criminal investigation at the state level, there is still tremendous interest in the star quarterback.

Last month Buzbee told League of Justice that his clients were being interviewed by prosecutors and Watson’s case could be brought before a grand jury by the end of this month for a determination on whether or not there will be criminal charges. Warrants issued by a Judge that allowed police to access Watson’s social media messages and online payment records indicate that police were allegedly investigating possible misdemeanor charges.

Watson’s attorney told League of Justice that he welcomes the opportunity to defend Watson to the fullest extent and denies the serious allegations levied against him. Watson’s agent recently told the press he is super confident about how Watson’s legal situation will play out.

Meanwhile the NFL is waiting for the legal process to play out before issuing a finding in its own ongoing investigation.

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