The star quarterback, who received a $230 million contract earlier this year, is still facing four more lawsuits alleging he sexually assaulted and harassed massage therapists.
Deshaun Watson has settled 20 of the 24 sexual misconduct lawsuits he is currently facing. The amounts in the settlements between the high-profile quarterback for the Cleveland Browns and the women who have accused him of assault and harassment during various massage appointments remained confidential.
Ashley Solis, the first woman to file a lawsuit against Watson in March 2021, was one of the four who did not settle. “Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story,” Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the women, said in a statement. “Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue.”
After Solis became the first to speak publicly about her experience of assault during a March 2020 massage appointment, two dozen have followed suit (one of the 25 lawsuits was dropped after a judge ruled her petition had to be changed to include her name). After two grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges, he was traded from the Houston Texans to the Browns in March of this year. Along with the trade, Watson was given a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
The NFL is currently investigating Watson to determine if he violated the league’s code of conduct, though an NFL spokesperson indicated that the settlements will have no bearing on their decisions over potential disciplinary outcomes.
Earlier this month, the New York Times reported on Watson’s repeated pattern of seeking out women for massage appointments and, according to additional women who are not among the 24 suing him (Watson booked appointments with at least 66 different women over a 17-month span), behaving inappropriately. The report also found that the Texans’ organization helped provide the venue for some of Watson’s appointments and provided him with a nondisclosure agreement after one of his accusers threatened to speak publicly about her experience.
During a news conference last week, Watson claimed that he did not force anyone into sexual activity and said that he had no regrets over his actions, but regretted the impact that the allegations had on those around him.
"I do understand that I do have regrets as far as the impact that [it's had] on the community and people outside of just myself," Watson said. "And that includes my family. That includes this organization. That includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer to these questions. That includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns. That includes males, females, everyone across the world. That's one thing I do regret is the impact that it's triggered on so many people. It's tough to have to deal with."