The Houston Texans have reached settlements with 30 women who have accused the N.F.L. quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct in massage appointments, according to Tony Buzbee, the lawyer representing the women.
One of Watson’s accusers filed suit last month against the Texans, Watson’s former employer, claiming that the organization “turned a blind eye” to Watson’s behavior toward female massage therapists during the time he played for the team. She is the only plaintiff to file suit against the Texans, but in a statement, Buzbee said the settlements are with “all of the women who have made, or intended to make, claims against the Houston Texans organization.”
Twenty-four women filed lawsuits against Watson, alleging that he assaulted or harassed them in massage appointments between 2020 and 2021, when he was on the Texans’ roster. Watson, who has denied any wrongdoing, settled 20 of those suits last month. The identities of the additional six women reaching settlements with the Texans are unknown, and Buzbee declined to share any additional details about their claims against Watson or the team.
“I will have no further comment on the allegations or the Texans’ alleged role, other than to say that there is a marked contrast in the way in which the Texans addressed these allegations and the way in which Watson’s team has done so,” Buzbee said.
The McNair family, owners of the team, said in a statement Friday that they did not have any knowledge of Watson’s alleged behavior until March 2021, when the first lawsuit against him was filed, but “we have intentionally chosen to resolve this matter amicably. This is not an admission of any wrongdoing, but instead a clear stand against any form of sexual assault and misconduct.”
An N.F.L. spokesman declined to comment on whether the league would investigate the Texans or if the organization could face discipline.
Buzbee said the terms of the settlements, including the financial amount, are confidential.
The news of the women’s settlements with the Texans comes as Watson awaits a ruling on if or how he will be disciplined by the N.F.L. after a three-day hearing last month in front of an arbiter jointly appointed by the league and the N.F.L. Players Association. Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges in March. After the first grand jury declined to bring charges and before the second one did, the Cleveland Browns traded for Watson and signed him to an unprecedented, fully guaranteed five-year contract worth $230 million.
Before one of Watson’s accusers filed her lawsuit against the Texans, a New York Times investigation showed that the team provided the venue Watson used for some of the massage appointments that resulted in civil claims or criminal complaints. A team representative also furnished him with a nondisclosure agreement after a woman who later sued him threatened online to expose his behavior.
Buzbee said that the woman’s lawsuit against the Texans would be dismissed with prejudice as soon as the settlement paperwork was completed. Four lawsuits against Watson are still pending — including that of the woman who had sued the Texans — and the settlements with the Texans do not appear to affect those cases.
Buzbee reiterated that “the four filed cases against Deshaun Watson will continue” and that all four are expected to go to trial in the spring of 2023.