March 19 (UPI) — The NFL is investigating sexual assault allegations brought against Deshaun Watson to determine if the Houston Texans quarterback violated the league’s personal conduct policy, the NFL and Texans announced.
Watson denied the allegations on social media and claims that the attorney representing the plaintiffs is seeking “publicity.”
Seven civil lawsuits were filed against Watson this week at Harris County District Court in Houston, according to the county clerk’s website. They accuse Watson of inappropriate contact with massage therapists in 2020.
“The NFL informed us [Thursday] that they will conduct an investigation into the allegations made in the civil lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson,” the Texans said in a statement Thursday. “We will stay in close contact with the league as they do.
“We continue to take this and all matters involving anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously. We do not anticipate making any additional statements until the NFL’s investigation concludes.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy on Friday confirmed that “the matter is being reviewed.”
“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,” Watson wrote in a statement Tuesday on Twitter.
“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.”
Houston attorney Tony Buzbee filed the seven lawsuits against Watson, which depict several incidents of alleged sexual assault against massage therapists. Six of the lawsuits detail alleged one-time encounters, while another woman alleged that she was sexually assaulted by Watson more than once.
One of the lawsuits alleges that Watson forcibly tried to kiss a woman.
Watson, 25, entered the league as the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The three-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and threw a career-high 33 touchdown passes last season.
Watson, who signed a four-year, $ 156 million contract extension in September, previously requested a trade from the Texans.