After saying ‘happy endings’ during massage sessions were not illegal during a radio interview, attorney Rusty Hardin later walked back his comments.
While Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson waits for the NFL to close out its investigation of allegations of sexual misconduct, his attorney made plenty of headlines of his own on Friday and not in a good way. During an appearance on Houston SportsRadio 610’s Payne & Pendergast Show, Rusty Hardin talked about his client’s ongoing civil case in which 23 women are accusing him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
“I don’t know how many men are out there now that have had a massage that perhaps occasionally there was a happy ending,” Hardin told the hosts. “Maybe there’s nobody in your listening audience that that ever happened to. I do want to point out, if it has happened, it’s not a crime. OK? Unless you are paying somebody extra or so to give you some type of sexual activity, it’s not a crime. And so at the end of the day, that’s another thing that would affect conduct. Doing something or saying something or being a way that makes you uncomfortable is not a crime. So, we’ve had two grand juries find that, and nobody seems to want to listen.”
Those words will likely come back to bite his client, Deshaun watson, right in the butt.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the plaintiffs, told John Barr of ESPN.com that Hardin “may have single-handedly lost his client’s case because I’m absolutely going to use that comment because I think it speaks volumes to how he, his team and his client think about the massage industry.”
Added Buzbee: “If you’re in the massage industry, according to Rusty Hardin, that’s to be expected. And apparently that’s what his client expected. I promise you that’s not what any of these women expected.”
Several hours later, Hardin released a statement to try to clarify what he meant during the interview.
“Deshaun Watson did nothing wrong. And as two grand juries have made clear, Deshaun did nothing illegal. Deshaun has always acknowledged consensual sexual activity with three of the plaintiff massage therapists after massages. And Deshaun has repeatedly sworn under oath that he did not force any of his accusers to have sexual contact.
On a Houston radio show interview today, I mentioned that a massage that has a “happy ending” is not illegal, meaning it is not illegal for someone to have consensual sex with a therapist after a massage unless the sex is for pay.
Deshaun did not pay anyone for sex. I was using the term hypothetically and not describing Deshaun’s case.
I have reiterated to others it’s not OK to do anything that a woman does not agree to do. These women have alleged assault in their pleadings. I was speaking in a hypothetical situation. If there is a consensual sexual encounter after a massage, that is not a crime nor the basis for a civil lawsuit. I was not talking about what Deshaun did or did not do or expected or did not expect.”