A 24th civil case is expected to be filed Monday against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot.
This new lawsuit comes just days after a 23rd case was brought against Watson and news broke that the quarterback, according to a lawsuit, offered a $100,000 settlement to each of the first 22 women who filed cases against him.
The 24th case – like the others – will allege sexual misconduct by Watson during massage appointments and the client will also be represented by attorney Tony Buzbee.
Whether coincidence or not, the 24th lawsuit news came soon after Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, issued a statement explaining an earlier radio interview where the lawyer tried to argue that "happy ending" massages were not illegal.
“Deshaun Watson did nothing wrong,’’ Hardin wrote after the interview. “And as two grand juries have made clear, Deshaun did nothing illegal. Deshaun has always acknowledged consensual sexual activity with three of the plaintiff massage therapists after massages. And Deshaun has repeatedly sworn under oath that he did not force any of his accusers to have sexual contact.
“On a Houston radio show interview today, I mentioned that a massage that has a ‘happy ending’ is not illegal, meaning it is not illegal for someone to have consensual sex with a therapist after a massage unless the sex is for pay. Deshaun did not pay anyone for sex. I was using the term hypothetically and not describing Deshaun’s case."
“I have reiterated to others it’s not ok to do anything that a woman does not agree to do. These women have alleged assault in their pleadings. I was speaking in a hypothetical situation. If there is a consensual sexual encounter after a massage, that is not a crime nor the basis for a civil lawsuit. I was not talking about what Deshaun did or did not do or expected or did not expect.’’
After Hardin's outlandish interview, Buzbee told ESPN's John Barr that Watson's attorney "may have single-handedly lost his client’s case" with his words.
Buzbee added: “If you’re in the massage industry, according to Rusty Hardin, that’s to be expected. And apparently that’s what his client expected. I promise you that’s not what any of these women expected.”
— John Barr ESPN (@JohnBarrESPN) June 3, 2022
Deshaun Watson's NFL future
As of this writing, Watson is set to suit up for the Browns this season after being traded to Cleveland by the Houston Texans earlier this year and signing a fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
He already won't face criminal charges after two grand juries declined to indict Watson, and he hasn't been suspended by the NFL or been placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List yet – both of which would make him ineligible to play for the Browns for a determinate amount of time.
The NFL's internal investigation of Watson was "nearing the end" in late May, according to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but that could easily change after the two newest cases came to light.