Rusty Hardin, the attorney for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson as he faces 22 lawsuits connected to sexual misconduct, held a press conference Wednesday to address the FBI’s investigation into the allegations, and other information that’s gone public of late.
The primary reason for Hardin hastily calling a meeting with the media was due to an exclusive interview Tony Buzbee, the attorney for Watson’s accusers, gave on Tuesday, in which he said he met with FBI officials multiple times as they carried out their investigation into the Watson allegations.
Hardin was attempting to diffuse the situation, imploring the public to “relax” and “take a deep breath” while the legal process plays out. He implied that buzz words like “FBI” and “grand jury subpoenas” have caused the Watson scandal to grow even more hectic of late.
While he didn’t deny that the FBI was investigating the allegations made by Buzbee’s clients, Hardin steadfastly defended Watson, denying he’d done anything “illegal or improper” and asserting that the truth will eventually come to light:
Hardin also explained how in April the FBI approached his team about Buzbee plaintiff Shenee Lawson, and was among those filing a lawsuit against Watson for allegedly forcing her into oral sex.
It marked the first allegation in which Watson was accused of using force, per Hardin. However, text message records that Hardin cited in the press conference painted a different picture — and he stated that there are similar inconsistencies among Buzbee’s other plaintiffs:
In addition to addressing the controversy around the FBI, subpoenas and other issues, Hardin snapped back at the recent Sports Illustrated cover story written by Jenny Vrentas, which interviewed two Watson plaintiffs who’ve gone public.
Both women featured in the story described their experiences with the reigning NFL passing champion in graphic detail, and criticized the league’s investigation. According to Hardin, Vrentas referred to Watson’s “unproven innocence” in an email exchange. In so many words, Hardin claimed Vrentas has an agenda against Watson.
Despite all the recent headlines and speculation surrounding Watson’s future, Hardin declared on Wednesday, “I promise you nothing’s different than four months ago.”
For his part, when the media asked questions following his initial opening statement, Hardin explained he had “no idea” on the status of the NFL’s investigation, and neither he nor Watson has not spoken to the league’s personal-conduct investigators.
“I have had no contact with the NFL, except initially to say, ‘When the time comes, we will fully cooperate,'” Hardin said.
Hardin explained that the league doesn’t want to influence the criminal investigation by providing information that could lead to a biased conclusion.
So while Hardin’s presser didn’t provide a lot of new insight into Watson’s case or lots of new developments, his primary intent was to insist that these private matters not be handled so much in the public arena.