Watson’s attorneys unveiled a series of text messages sent to Watson by the alleged victim, in which she appears to repeatedly proposition the Cleveland Browns quarterback for sex.
An attorney for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is pushing back against the latest lawsuit filed against the controversial football player, releasing several exhibits that apparently undermine the plaintiff’s claims that Watson coerced her into performing oral sex at a Houston hotel in December of 2020.
According to USA Today, attorney Rusty Hardin is also asking a Harris County, Texas, court to sanction the plaintiff’s attorneys for filing what he describes as a “sham lawsuit.”
The lawsuit, adds USA Today, is the 26th lawsuit filed against Watson for sexual misconduct.
Of the 26 total lawsuits, 23 have so far been settled out of court; another was dropped shortly after filing.
While this latest lawsuit is but the latest of the two remaining complaints, Hardin has adopted a particularly aggressive defense.
“It’s nothing but an extortionist shakedown and we’re not going to put up with it,” Hardin said in a statement. “The days of settling lawsuits that we don’t believe in are over.”
In one filing, Hardin’s law firm showcased repeated text messages Watson’s accuser has sent the quarterback.
“The documents [the woman] provided reflect that for nearly a year after their massage session together, [the woman] sent more than 35 messages to Mr. Watson—none of which were answered by Mr. Watson,” Hardin said.
Other text messages were overtly sexual, with several asking Watson whether he wanted to meet again.
“I have the best head in all of Houston,” the woman wrote in one text message.
“Let me know when your [sic] ready to make big deposits,” she said in another.
Hardin said that the plaintiff’s text messages make it apparent that the lawsuit was filed in bad faith.
“This obviously does not sound like a person who was pressured into performing oral sex,” Hardin wrote in a document filed on Monday.
“This evidence undeniably establishes that while this may be a case of unrequited love, under no stretch of the imagination is this a case of assault,” Hardin said. “Had [the woman’s legal counsel] performed event the most cursory investigation, it would have confirmed that fact.”
Leah Graham, an attorney with Rusty Hardin & Associates, told cleveland.com that the firm has decided to “break its silence” over the nature of some of the claims against Watson.
“I think the days of biting our tongue and trying to be politically correct and trying to be a little bit cautious about what the evidence shows and what the facts reveal—the days of doing that are over,” Graham said. “The truth shall set us free.”
Speaking to Cleveland.com in a telephone interview, Hardin stressed that Watson has only settled many of the claims against him because he wishes to resume his athletic career.
Watson, adds cleveland.com, is currently serving an 11-game suspension under the N.F.L.’s personal conduct policy. However, Watson is scheduled to play on December 4 in Houston, the same city where most of the alleged sexual assaults occurred.
“He’s back and as far as we’re concerned, it’s over,” Hardin said. “We’ve settled a bunch of lawsuits that we did not have any liability for — that we believe did not have merit — but we settled them in order to practically get everything over so he could go start playing football.”
Hardin said that Watson also had to “settle the matter with the N.F.L. Both of those have been done now. And now, anybody that wants to file one of these lawsuits does so at their own risk because there is no such thing, and we’ll fight tooth and nail on every one of them.”