Houston Texans to be added to Deshaun Watson lawsuits, attorney says

The Houston Texans soon will be added as defendants to many of the lawsuits filed by women against Deshaun Watson, according to the women’s attorney – a move that will increase the stakes in these cases as legal thunderclouds continue to gather over the NFL quarterback.

The amended lawsuits will make the argument that the Texans, Watson’s former team, knew or should have known about his sexual misconduct during massages sessions and are therefore liable for what happened to these women, according to the attorney, Tony Buzbee.

Watson, 26, has denied wrongdoing. But he is now facing 24 lawsuits by women who generally have accused him of exposing himself and causing unwanted touching or in some cases coercing them or ejaculating on them during massages in 2020 and early 2021, when Watson played for that team.

“Based on what we have learned from the Houston Police Department, we will soon be joining the Houston Texans organization and others as defendants in the ongoing lawsuits against Deshaun Watson,” Buzbee said in a statement. “Our team has thoroughly vetted each case. We are considering many others. These women are the true heroes in this sordid story. What has become clear is that the Houston Texans organization and their contracting 'massage therapy company' facilitated Deshaun Watson’s conduct.”

The amended lawsuits have not yet been filed, according to the court system. The Texans didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Deshaun Watson with the Houston Texans in 2020.

The Texans have come under scrutiny in the pretrial discovery process for these lawsuits, which are not going to trial until next year. For example, USA TODAY Sports reported in April that Watson’s marketing manager testified in a pretrial deposition in February that the Texans had given Watson non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) for him to have strangers sign in settings such as massages.

In an interview last week with USA TODAY Sports, Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said one of the plaintiffs caused Watson to start his NDA habit because she posted Watson’s personal data on Instagram in November 2020, including his phone number. Another attorney at Hardin’s firm, Leah Graham, said Watson was “getting inundated with calls and texts from strangers” and had to change his phone number as a result.

“The head of security of the (Houston) Texans said, 'Whoever your vendors are, you need a non-disclosure agreement,’ so Deshaun started using a non-disclosure agreement in his massages,” Hardin said.

Buzbee said the Texans provided the opportunity for his conduct to occur.

“We believe the Texans organization was well aware of Watson’s issues, but failed to act,” Buzbee said. “They knew or certainly should have known. The Houston Texans organization provided rooms for Watson at the high-end Houstonian hotel for his `massages; the Texans also provided massage tables and other support for Watson’s proclivities—ostensibly to protect their `asset.’ We intend to make sure all involved in Watson’s conduct are held accountable, in addition to and including Watson himself.”

USA TODAY Sports also reported in April about Watson’s use of the Houstonian hotel. Hardin has said the women are lying and that Buzbee views Watson as a “payday.”

He has not been arrested or charged. The NFL has been investigating the allegations and could suspend Watson if he is found to have violated the league's personal conduct policy. Earlier this year, the Texans traded Watson to the Cleveland Browns, who gave him a record guaranteed contract of $230 million over five years.

Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: bschrotenb@usatoday.com.