HOUSTON — Attorney Tony Busby, who represents 24 women who have pending civil lawsuits against former Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson, intends to add Texas franchise “and others” as defendants in the lawsuit, it was announced Wednesday.
Buzbee made the announcement after revealing pleas in recent months alleging that the Texas security chief provided a nondisclosure agreement to Watson, which the QB eventually used during his now allegedly sexualized massages. The deposits also shed more light on Watson’s use of a paid suite at The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, which is claimed to have been the site of at least seven massage encounters.
In his announcement, Buzbee cited information he “learned” from the Houston Police Department as having played a role in the decision. On Tuesday, Buzbee stated on his Instagram account that he had fired an “investigating officer” at this police department and learned new details about the Health and Safety Department’s investigation. By Wednesday, Buzbee had decided to add Texas to the civil lawsuits that had been filed.
“Our team has carefully examined each case. We are thinking about many other things,” Busby said in a statement. These women are the true heroes of this sordid story. What became clear was that the Houston Texans organization and its “massage therapy company” had facilitated Deshaun Watson’s behavior.
In many of these cases, Texas provided the opportunity for this behavior to occur. We believe the Texas organization was well aware of Watson’s issues, but failed to act. They knew or certainly should know. The Houston Texans organization offered Watson rooms in the upscale Houston hotel for a “massage”; Texans also provided massage tables and other forms of support to Watson’s proclivities — ostensibly to protect their “assets”. We intend to make sure that all those involved in Watson’s behavior are held accountable, as well as Watson himself.”
Following the allegations about the NDA and the Houston winger, the Texans told Yahoo Sports on Tuesday that the franchise was not aware of any wrongdoing by the quarterback, who has since been traded to the Cleveland Browns.
“As previously reported, our organization was first notified of the allegations related to Deshaun Watson through a social media post in March 2021,” Texas Director of Communications Omar Majzoub said in a statement. “Since then, in recognition of the gravity of the allegations, we have cooperated with each investigation into this matter and will continue to do so moving forward.”
On Tuesday, after a detailed report on allegations against Watson by the New York Times, Busby responded to a portion of the report that said his attorney, Rusty Harden, had a “regular dialogue” with Harris County’s assistant attorney general, Jonah Stallings. The Harris County District Attorney’s office was responsible for handling the grand jury presentation that would ultimately determine whether a criminal indictment could be reached for Watson.
The Times report cited information obtained through an open records request that showed Stallings and Harden “met in Hardin’s office, talked on the phone 12 times and exchanged more than two dozen text messages” within about eight weeks, including before the attorney general’s office presented its findings. The investigation reached by the Houston Police Department in its investigation of Watson. The Times report also revealed that Hardin gave a PowerPoint presentation to the grand jury in Watson’s defense. Conversely, records showed that Buzbee spoke to the attorney general’s office only once before the Harris County grand jury presentation.
In March, nine criminal complaints were submitted to a grand jury in Harris County, and one criminal complaint was submitted to a grand jury in Brazoria County. Both jurors eventually refused to bring criminal charges against Watson.
In the wake of the grand jury’s decisions in March, Busby expressed his frustration at the lack of an indictment. But Tuesday evening after the Times report was revealed, he claimed in an Instagram post that he felt “cheated” about how the attorney general’s office had interacted with Hardin. He also noted in an Instagram post that he wasn’t aware that Hardin gave a PowerPoint presentation that was shown to the grand jury.
Going forward, Busby noted that he took a affidavit in which a Houston police investigator testified that the department’s office was “convinced that Watson committed more than a dozen sex crimes.” While Buzbee did not accuse the attorney general’s office of misconduct in the absence of indictments, he appears to have left a lingering question about what happened between the Hardin ad Stallings.
It is not known whether adding Texans as a defendant in the civil lawsuits would change the NFL’s investigation of Watson and whether he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. However, the league said it still had an “ongoing” investigation into Watson’s lawsuits.