How jeans and a spa allowed Deshaun Watson’s problematic behavior

The allegations have been frequent and surprising: more than two dozen women have said that football star Deshaun Watson harassed or assaulted them during massage appointments that Watson and his lawyers insist were innocuous.

Two grand jurors in Texas this year refused to charge him criminally, and while the NFL is considering whether to discipline him, he has gotten another job, signing a five-year, $ 230 million contract fully guaranteed to play. the Cleveland Browns quarterback next season. .

It is time, Watson and his representatives say, for everyone to move on.

However, an examination of the New York Times records, including depositions and evidence for civil lawsuits, as well as interviews with some of the women, showed that Watson behaved more questionably than was previously known.

The Times review also showed that Watson’s conduct was knowingly or unknowingly enabled by the team he was playing for at the time, the Houston Texans, which provided the place Watson used for some of the appointments. A team representative also provided him with a confidentiality agreement after a woman now suing him threatened him online with exposing his behavior.

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said his client “continues to vehemently deny” the allegations in the lawsuits. He declined to answer questions from the Times in detail, but said in a statement: “We can say that when the real facts are known, this issue will come to light.”

The Texans did not answer specific questions about Watson’s use of team resources. They said in a statement that they first heard the allegations against him in March 2021, have cooperated with investigators and “will continue to do so.”

Watson has said publicly that he hired about 40 different therapists during his five seasons in Houston, but The Times report found that he booked appointments with at least 66 different women in just 17 months from fall 2019 through the spring of 2021. Some of these additional. the women, speaking publicly for the first time, described experiences that undermined Watson’s insistence that he seek only professional massage therapy.

One woman, who did not sue Watson or complain to police, told The Times that she was persistent in her sexual intercourse requests during her massage, including “begging” her to put her mouth on the penis.

“Specifically, I had to say, ‘No, I can’t do this,'” said the woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her family’s privacy. “And that’s when I asked him, ‘What is it like to be famous? How, what’s going on? You’re about to get dirty. ‘

An appointment with an acquaintance

Before Watson was selected by the Texans 12th overall in 2017, he was a winning quarterback at Gainesville (Ga.) High School and Clemson University.

NFL teams widely saw him as a future franchise quarterback with no known character issues, and he seemed to live up to his billing. When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, ahead of Watson’s rookie season, he gave his first game check to stadium cafeteria employees who were affected by the storm.

Since the first wave of lawsuits against Watson was filed last year, the main charges against him have been known. The women complained that Watson turned the massages into sexuality without her consent, including intentionally touching them with his penis and coercing them into sexual acts.

It is unclear when he started looking for so many different women to massage. Hardin said his client had to book “ad hoc” appointments when the coronavirus pandemic began, although Watson began working with numerous women earlier.

Not all women who massaged Watson between October 2019 and March 2021 have detailed their interactions with him. Some who have shared their experiences say they have had no problems with it. Others describe worrying and similar behaviors.

The 66 women are:

  • The 24 who have sued him, including two who filed complaints during the last week. In the latest dress, the woman said Watson masturbated during the massage.

  • A woman who sued but later withdrew the complaint for “privacy and security issues.”

  • Two women who filed criminal charges against Watson but did not sue him.

  • At least 15 therapists issued statements of support to Watson at the request of his lawyers and massaged him during that period.

  • At least four therapists from Genuine Touch, the massage therapy group hired with jeans.

  • Five women identified by plaintiffs’ attorneys during the investigation into their civil lawsuits.

  • At least 15 more women whose dates with Watson were confirmed through interviews and records reviewed by The Times.

A closer look at civil lawsuits, including a review of private messages introduced as evidence, shows Watson’s long efforts to book massages and the methods he used to assure women that he could be trusted.

One woman who sued Watson was a flight attendant who began taking massage classes during the pandemic. She and Watson were in the same social circle, but Watson acknowledged in a statement that they had never really spoken except to greet.

In November 2020, after a friendly exchange on Instagram, Watson saw that the woman was a masseuse and sent a message asking for a date. As they struggled to work for a while, Watson told him, “Just try to support black companies,” a message he later repeated.

Watson regularly presented himself as an ally of women entrepreneurs. In the lawsuit filed this week, the therapist alleged that he told her he “really wanted to support” black companies and on another occasion left a woman perplexed when she bought 30 bottles of her skin cleanser. of $ 40.

In messages to the woman, whom he knew from his social circle, Watson asked to meet at The Houstonian, a luxury hotel and club where the Texans had secured an affiliation for him. He said he didn’t feel comfortable going to a hotel because he knew Watson’s girlfriend, and in fact he had once taken care of her and her little brother. The woman told Watson that she wanted to keep things “professional and respectful.”

“Oh, definitely always professional,” he wrote. “I even have an NDA, I also have a therapist sign.” He was referring to the NDA he had received a few days earlier from a member of the Texan security staff. Watson did not explain in the text how the woman would benefit from signing a document intended to protect her.

Finally, the woman suggested that they be at her mother’s house in Manvel, a 30-minute drive from Watson. He replied, “Damn it’s far away,” but he agreed to make the trip.

In the civil lawsuit the woman filed against Watson last year, she said she was uncomfortable with her instructions to “get in there” during the massage, but attributed it to her inexperience and agreed to return. work with him. When she ejaculated during the second date and then asked for another massage later that day at the Houstonian, she first agreed, then told him she couldn’t do it. He finally blocked his number.

Starting sex

Most of the women Watson saw for massages did not sue or call police. But even some who did not complain said that Watson came looking for sex.

The woman who sold bottle cleaners to Watson had a few dates with him during the summer of 2020. This beautician, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, told Watson when she booked an appointment. that he was only licensed to give her a facial. But she said in an interview with The Times that she was completely undressed and headed for her groin. Although he said there was no sexual contact, he believed he was looking for more than a professional massage.

Watson and his lawyers have said he was only looking for massages. Lawyers have acknowledged that Watson had sexual intercourse with three of the women who sued him. But the sexual acts took place after the massages, they said, and were initiated by the women. When asked if he claimed Watson never had sex with any other massage therapist, Hardin did not answer.

Another woman who spoke to The Times, a physiotherapist who did not sue Watson, said she started having sex on all three dates.

The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect her privacy, said in an interview that she began working on Watson’s back. But when he turned around, he said his demeanor and voice changed, and he began to aggressively dictate where he wanted to be touched. In her first session, she said she put herself in the happy baby yoga position, with her back to her feet in her hands, and asked him to massage her between her testicles and anus. She laughed at the request, but said she grabbed his wrist and put his hand on it.

The woman said Watson started having sex twice, once pulling down the bushes he was carrying. She and Watson knew each other from all over the city and were on friendly terms, and admitted that she let him continue these sexual acts. “I didn’t know how to tell him no,” he said.

Hardin said in a statement: “It would be irresponsible and premature for us to comment on vague details submitted by anonymous people.”

A payment of $ 5,000

In June 2020, Watson began visiting a spa in a mall next to Interstate 45, at least a 30-minute drive from home or work. He had found A New U Spa on Instagram and sent a message. The owner, Dionne Louis, became a resource for Watson, able to connect him with several women for massages.

She watched over him, she said in a statement, sometimes arranging for a security guard when Watson entered, worried that the expensive cars he was driving could turn him into a target for a robbery. She also received things from him. In November 2020, Watson paid him $ 5,000 through an app, he said, to buy spa equipment. Louis told one of his employees in a text message: “I told you that …

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