Prosecutors in Harris County, Texas, intend to gather evidence to present to a grand jury that could lead to criminal charges against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Fox 26 in Houston reported.
The television station and other media outlets reported the district attorney’s office is issuing subpoenas in the case. Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
Houston police have received criminal complaints and are investigating. The NFL has a separate investigation ongoing to determine whether Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
Per a Yahoo Sports report, the adult sex crimes and trafficking division of the Harris County District Attorney’s office is issuing the subpoenas, seeking the testimony of a “small handful” of women.
The allegations against Watson range from inappropriate conduct to sexual assault during the course of the massages. Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in April there “sometimes consensual encounters” between the quarterback and the massage therapists.
Watson, who turns 26 next month, has denied any wrongdoing.
Once the grand jury is empaneled, the members will hear evidence against Watson, then potentially vote to indict him, allowing prosecutors to file criminal charges.
In grand jury proceedings, no defense is presented. No timeline has been provided as to when the proceedings could begin.
Pending the outcome of the NFL investigation, Watson could wind up on the commissioner’s exempt list. If that were to happen, he would be paid as if he were on the roster but would not be allowed to practice or attend games. He could take part in meetings, work out or receive treatment.
Before the first lawsuit was filed against Watson in late March, he had requested to be traded. He is in training camp, reportedly only to avoid being fined. He has fallen to fourth on the QB depth chart given his uncertain status.
Last September, the Texans signed Watson to a four-year contract extension worth $160 million due to kick in before the 2022 season.
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–Field Level Media