Texans QB Watson won’t face criminal charges

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4:48 PM ET

HOUSTON — A grand jury has declined to indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson following a police investigation sparked by lawsuits filed by 22 women who have accused him of harassment and sexual assault during massage sessions.

The announcement on Friday came nearly a year after the first civil lawsuit was filed against Watson.

A grand jury in Harris County returned nine no bills on the nine criminal complaints presented to it. As a result, the criminal proceedings in Harris County have concluded, according to prosecutor Johna Stallings.

“Today we presented nine criminal complaints for consideration by the grand jury. Beginning at 9 o’clock this morning, we presented evidence for over six hours for the grand jury to consider, as well as having witnesses available for those persons to testify in front of the grand jury,” said Stallings, of the division chief of adult sex crimes and trafficking at the Harris County District attorney’s office. “And the grand jury considered all of that evidence and returned nine no bills against Deshaun Watson involving these nine criminal complaints. We respect the grand jury’s decision and … conclude the criminal proceedings in Harris County.”

Eight of the women who sued Watson filed criminal complaints against him with Houston police and appeared before the grand jury. Two other women who didn’t sue Watson also filed police complaints. The FBI also had been reviewing the allegations.

The grand jury process does not require a unanimous vote.

Watson also sat for his first deposition on Friday at his attorney’s office. Hardin told ESPN he would instruct Watson to assert his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself during his testimony until the criminal investigation had concluded.

Last month, a judge ruled that Watson could be deposed in nine of those civil cases after Hardin, argued that delaying those depositions would enable Watson’s legal team to secure depositions with all 22 of the women who are suing Watson and also allow Watson the protection of knowing whether he will also face criminal charges.? Watson’s deposition was originally scheduled to begin as early as Feb. 22.

Although Watson has not played for the Texans since the first lawsuit was filed on March 16, 2020, he was on the active roster during the 2021 season and was a healthy scratch for all 17 games. He was paid his entire $10.54 million base salary. Last year, Hardin said he didn’t expect Watson to speak with the NFL’s investigative team until the criminal investigation had concluded.

In January 2021, Watson asked the Texans to trade him because he was unhappy about the future direction of the franchise. While members of the Texans’ organization have declined to comment specifically on Watson’s legal situation, general manager Nick Caserio said earlier this month that the team is “day to day in terms of handling” Watson’s situation. Last week head coach Lovie Smith said the Texans are hoping for “a prompt resolution” to Watson’s future with the team.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: ESPN NFL


Author: Ellen Garcia