Editor’s note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org.
Deshaun Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has demanded medical records from the quarterback’s accusers to show whether they suffered emotional distress after their encounters with Watson during massage sessions, per USA today.
Hardin claimed in the court filing submitted Thursday that only four of the 22 women showed medical records, but none showed all of their medical records.
“After publicly vilifying Mr. Watson for more than a year, the plaintiffs are now seeking to withhold and conceal physical evidence that would reveal the truth: Mr. Watson did not assault or harass any plaintiffs,” Hardin said, Going through USA today. “Mr. Watson respectfully requests that the court compel plaintiffs to fully comply with their discovery obligations.”
Watson still faces 22 active civil lawsuits relating to sexual harassment and assault during massage therapy sessions. The lawsuits describe stories ranging from Watson refusing to cover his genitals to “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him. No trial date has been set for the 22 active cases, although they are not expected to go to trial until the 2022 NFL season.
A plaintiff, Lauren Baxley, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by her therapist following her litigation with Watson, according to court records and USA today. However, the therapist was unaware of the text messages between Baxley and Watson, as was discovered in the January deposition. According to the file and USA todayHardin thinks it undermines Baxley’s emotional distress case.
Baxley’s lawyers, Tony Buzbee and Cornelia Brandfield-Harvey, think otherwise.
“His counselor explained that it is not uncommon for victims to stay in touch with their abusers,” they said in a statement to USA today. “It does not mean that the victim consented in any way to the abusive behavior of the abuser. Her adviser testified that the symptoms she observed in Ms. Baxley were consistent with those of someone who had been assaulted. Watson’s lawyers of course failed to include this information.
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Because Baxley omitted the information about possibly contacting Watson to schedule another appointment after the sexual assault story, her therapist questioned whether everything Baxley said in their sessions was ‘fully truthful’ .
The 22 women have not yet sent the full set of medical records, for USA today.
The quarterback has also faced 10 criminal complaints before; however, he does not face charges following two separate grand jury hearings. According to Jenny Vrentas from The New York Times, these complaints described similar situations, including Watson ejaculating on massage therapists and other forms of sexual assault or attempted sexual assault.
On March 11, a Harris County grand jury declined to indict Watson on nine charges, dismissing nine “no” bills. Nearly two weeks later, another Brazoria County grand jury declined to indict Watson on a 10th count.
During Watson’s introductory press conference with the Browns after being traded on March 18, he continued to deny ever assaulting, harassing or disrespecting any of the women. Cleveland tweeted Tuesday that “QB1” arrived for offseason practices, including a photo of Watson.
The NFL’s investigation of Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct policy is still ongoing and he could still be suspended. The NFL and NFLPA have reportedly agreed to have former U.S. District Court Judge Sue Robinson act as an impartial arbiter to lead the investigation into disciplinary cases similar to Watson’s.
As civil deposition proceedings continue, here’s a recap of what’s happened on and off the court since Watson’s last snap.
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