Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson recently faced a 23rd civil suit alleging sexual misconduct. Already facing nearly two dozen accusations tied to civil cases, it’s possible the NFL star could face even more trouble.
The latest lawsuit filed against Watson, bringing the total to 23, came just days after an HBO Real Sports’ piece spoke to several of his accusers. Because of those emotional stories from the women, another alleged victim of Watson’s sexual misconduct chose to come forward.
Watson’s attorney has already pushed back strongly against the claims, denying the validity and suggesting it was a money grab. While lawyer Rusty Hardin is publicly denying the latest allegation, others could be coming.
On the You Pod to Win the Game podcast, Houston-based NFL reporter Charles Robinson shared that there are talks from lawyers within the region that other accusers could choose to come forward.
Watson already met with the NFL as part of the league’s ongoing investigation into the allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. It was widely believed that the NFL was nearing the end of its inquiry with a second interview with the Browns’ quarterback expected in June.
Under the current timeline, the NFL would make a decision in July and present its findings to a neutral arbitrator for a ruling to be made. However, new information coming forward from additional accusers could change things.
- Deshaun Watson contract: $1.035 base salary (2022), $46 million base salary (2023-’26)
Notably, attorney Tony Buzbee told the Associated Press that he will soon be filing a 24th civil suit against Watson. While specifics weren’t provided, it could just be the next in a line of several more troubling accusations to be presented against the star quarterback.
Why Deshaun Watson could face new allegations
When the latest woman came forward with allegations against Watson, it was received with some skepticism from a section of Browns fans and those believing in Watson’s innocence. After a grand jury declined to indict the quarterback on 10 criminal charges, some hoped the civil matters could be settled quickly.
However, the HBO Sports interview changed things. The latest accuser said she felt compelled after seeing others like her come forward with their stories, inspiring her to put aside her fear of public backlash when her name was revealed.
As Robinson described on the Yahoo Sports’ NFL podcast, fear over accusers’ names being released and concerns for safety are a part of the reason why other alleged victims haven’t come forward yet to file a civil suit.
“Waiting to see how things unfold because they, according to these lawyers, they are not willing to put their names out there or subject themselves to maybe people coming after them, worried about their own safety.”Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson on why additional accusers might be hesitant to come forward
There are other accusers not part of the legal battle. Sports Illustrated reported in March 2021 speaking to a woman who allegedly experienced Watson’s inappropriate behavior and unwanted sexual conduct in 2019, she chose not to pursue a civil suit.
Based on the latest reporting, it’s possible the NFL pauses a ruling to explore speaking with any new accusers that come forward. It would allow the league to avoid the scenario of a suspension being handed down, only for more troubling allegations to be made against Watson weeks later.
For the Browns, all of this adds even greater uncertainty regarding their quarterback’s availability for the 2022 season.