While a grand jury declined to indict quarterback Deshaun Watson on 10 criminal complaints alleging sexual misconduct, a Houston police detective reached a different conclusion during her investigation.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office announced in March that a grand jury failed to indict Watson on any of the complaints accusing him of sexual misconduct. It came after the prosecutor made her case to the jury, resulting in the decision.
However, the case presented to the grand jury is now facing some criticism. Jenny Vrentas of the New York Times reported that Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney had extensive contact with the prosecutor throughout the investigation. It included frequent correspondence with Harris County sex crimes prosecutor Johna Stallings, including an in-person meeting and numerous phone calls over a two-month period.
While Hardin said the communication was “standard practice” for lawyers in his position, but it did raise some eyebrows for former Harris County prosecutor Njeri Mathis Rutledge.
“There are some well-known defense attorneys like a Rusty Hardin that may have gotten a little extra real estate in terms of time, but even given the fact that it was Rusty, that’s still a lot of time.”Njeri Mathis Rutledge, a former Harris County prosecutor, on Rusty Hardin’s frequent communication with the prosecutor
Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing all 24 plaintiffs in the civil suits against Watson, released a statement saying he felt duped by the process. Now, Houston detective Kamesha Baker is bringing a new spotlight to the matter.
- Deshaun Watson contract: $1.035 base salary (2022), $46 million base salary (2023-’26)
According to Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today, detective Baker testified this week regarding her investigation into the criminal complaints against Watson. In her pretrial deposition, Baker said she wasn’t called to testify before the grand jury despite her belief that Watson committed multiple crimes.
As part of the civil litigation for one of the suits, Baker said she believes Watson committed criminal indecent assault and sexual assault. She also believes in instances where there was consensual sex in exchange for money, Watson was involved in prostitution.
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During the deposition, Baker was asked directly if she felt confident the evidence she had warranted charges being filed and she said yes. The detective also said there was zero doubt in her mind following the investigation that crimes occurred.
Watson remains under investigation by the NFL and league investigators have met with the star quarterback and several of his accusers. While it’s believed to be in the final stages, the NFL will be looking into the latest accusations made against Watson.
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The Browns will have Watson at mandatory minicamp, where he would be scheduled for interviews with reporters. Weeks after many around the NFL believed a six-game suspension announced before training camp would be the likely outcome, the latest developments suggest Cleveland might be without its face of the franchise even longer.