As the NFL’s 15-month investigation approached sexual harassment allegations against Dachon Watson, one of its defendants on Monday filed a lawsuit against Watson’s former Houston Texans alleging that the organization had “turned a blind eye” to a woman. Therapists.
Watson, a quarterback who moved to Cleveland Browns in March, reached an agreement last week with 20 of the 24 women he accused of assaulting or harassing them during a massage meeting held from 2020 to 2021 when he was in Texas. List. A civil lawsuit was filed against the Texans by one of four women who did not settle with Watson. He said the team allowed his behavior to reach Watson by delivering a non-disclosure agreement to therapists and by delivering the space he used for some of his meetings, as reported by The New York Times earlier this month.
“We know of a lawsuit filed against us today,” the Texans said in a written statement Monday. “Since March 2021, we fully support and carry out law enforcement agencies and various investigations. We will continue to take the necessary steps to resolve the allegations against our organization. “
Watson repeatedly denied all allegations and, through his attorneys, admitted to having agreed to have sexual contact with the three women who sued him. In March, two Texas grand juries dropped Watson’s criminal charges. In the midst of the release of these cases, the Browns traded on Watson and signed him to an unprecedented, fully guaranteed five-year contract worth $ 230 million.
The lawsuit against the Texans was filed a day before Watson appeared before an NFL disciplinary hearing with former federal judge Sue L. Robinson, an arbitrator jointly appointed by the league and the Players’ Union. This is the first personal conduct case in the league to be considered by a disciplinary officer in place of Commissioner Roger Goodell, a protocol set out in the 2020 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In a briefing before the hearing to Robinson and the union, the NFL recommended that Watson be suspended indefinitely and would have to wait at least the entire season to apply for reinstatement, according to two people who reviewed league materials. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the NFL did not comment publicly on the findings of the investigation.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the NFL recommendation.
The hearing was scheduled because representatives of the League and Watson were unable to negotiate a mutually agreed penalty, indicating a large gap between what each side would receive. An indefinite suspension will give the league the flexibility to change its discipline if any new charges are filed against Watson or if new investigative information is revealed in ways such as ongoing civil cases or new lawsuits filed against Texans.
The union was expected to face significant punishment, which would be the first test for a new disciplinary process. The NFL Players Association can appeal against Robinson’s decision, and that appeal will be considered by Goodell or a person elected by him.
During their investigation, NFL investigators interviewed 10 women who filed lawsuits against Watson, as well as other witnesses, including women who worked in a massage therapy group that has a contract with Texans. The league first met Watson last month for multi-day interviews.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that the NFL had based Watson’s long-term suspension case on the accounts of five women the league believed had the strongest evidence, including concurrent confirmation. The detective who led the Houston police investigation into Watson said in a civil lawsuit that the strongest evidence from the 10 criminal charges against Watson came from the cases of Ashley Solis – Watson’s first defendant – and a woman who was not. Publicly identified, who said Watson ejaculated during her second massage.
Both women have met with NFL investigators and are among the four civil plaintiffs who have not settled with Watson.
Solis’s lawsuit alleges that Watson deliberately touched her erect and open penis during a March 2020 massage. Watson said in the case hearing that he apologized to Solis by text message after their appointment for his discomfort and went on to describe the end of the massage as “teary eyes”, though he said he did not know. Why.
The woman Solis worked with also contacted a veteran massage therapist on Facebook the second day of a session with Solis Watson and wrote that her colleague was “requested” to be a professional athlete and did not know what to do.
The second plaintiff, a woman who also filed a lawsuit against the Texans, massaged Watson in November 2020 at separate meetings at her mother’s home in Manvel, Texas, a suburb of Houston, in November 2020. Schedule another meeting with him later that day. He agreed, but soon after canceled, showing text message records. The woman ignored Watson’s subsequent attempts to contact him and eventually blocked him.
This woman told a friend who played in the NFL about her experience working with Watson. She asked for advice as she started working as a masseur and had mutual friends with Watson. To protect his privacy, speaking on condition of anonymity, the player confirmed that he had reached out after the massage and said he felt uncomfortable during the session. He said if he did not feel comfortable he would no longer have to work with Watson.
He said he spoke to NFL investigators as a contemporary witness.
The person who reviewed the NFL briefing materials, one of the five reports the league asked the Disciplinary Officer to review, was from a woman who told Sports Illustrated about her experience working with Watson. When they scheduled a massage for them in November 2019, the woman said Watson deliberately exposed herself, told her she could move her bare penis, and after developing an erection began throwing her pelvis into the air.
He told the therapist who had scheduled the meeting and later, when Watson tried to book with him again, he told him in a message that he was in discomfort.
The woman did not file a lawsuit or a police report, and her attorney said she did not participate in the NFL investigation. League investigators do not have the right to be summoned, so their investigation relies on volunteering witnesses and obtaining evidence gathered in criminal or civil proceedings.