Wednesday appeared to be a very quiet day for Deshaun Watson as no more lawsuits were filed, but his name still came up on social media.
Here is the full statement from Rose Luna, who is the CEO of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault:
“As the number of accusers against Houston Texans football player Deshaun Watson grows, so too do the questions about the character of his accusers. This is both unfortunate and predictable for survivors of sexual assault.
Sixteen lawsuits have been filed and at least 22 women have been reported to have come forward as of today.
We know all too well how difficult it is to come forward after an assault. We also know how underreported these crimes are. Only 2% of sexual assault allegations are proven to be false. Meanwhile, women of color are disproportionately affected by sexual violence.
High profile cases can be especially difficult on survivors who are subjected to ongoing media coverage, damning commentary, and inevitable bombardment of victim-blaming reactions. The focus must remain on the assault rather than on the choices, profession, or backgrounds of the survivors. We hope the judicial system will not dismiss and fail those who have the courage to speak up. Every person who comes forward has a right to be taken seriously and to have their allegations thoroughly investigated.
Although the issue of sexual violence is serious and highly misunderstood, it is our hope that as more survivors speak up, their traumatic experience of sexual assault will not be trivialized, villainized, or minimized.”
Watson has hired Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who fired back this week by saying “any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false.”
“Opposing counsel has orchestrated a circus-like atmosphere by using social media to publicize 14 “Jane Doe” lawsuits during the past seven days in a manner calculated to inflame the public and malign Deshaun’s otherwise sterling reputation. In addition, the tactic of refusing our requests to confidentially provide the names of the plaintiffs so we can fully investigate their claims makes uncovering the truth extremely difficult. Anonymity is often necessary as a shield for victims but opposing counsel has used it as a sword to publicly humiliate Deshaun before the truth‑seeking process can even begin.
I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false. And in the one case in which we have been able to identify a plaintiff, we have strong evidence showing the allegation is false. In January of this year, a woman attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in exchange for her “indefinite silence” about what she stated was a consensual encounter. It is our belief this woman is the plaintiff in Cause No. 2021-15613. (Please see the declaration by Bryan Burney below.) This calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well.”
After the first suit was filed, Watson denied those allegations in a statement posted to Twitter.
“As a result of a social media post by a publicity-seeking plaintiff’s lawyer, I recently became aware of a lawsuit that has apparently been filed against me. I have not yet seen the complaint, but I know this: I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect. The plaintiff’s lawyer claims that this isn’t about money, but before filing suit he made a baseless six-figure settlement demand, which I quickly rejected. Unlike him, this isn’t about money for me — it’s about clearing my name, and I look forward to doing that,” the post said.
Deshaun Watson is now facing 16 lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct or assault.
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