A Texas grand jury on Friday declined to indict and criminally charge Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson after he was accused of sexual harassment and assault by multiple women.
“After a Harris County grand jury was presented all the evidence and had the opportunity to hear from all witnesses, grand jurors declined to indict Deshaun Watson,” Dane Schiller, spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said Friday. “Grand jury proceedings are secret by law, so no information related to their inquiry may be disclosed.”
Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, said in a statement on Friday that he and his client were “delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did.”
“Deshaun Watson did not commit any crimes and is not guilty of any offenses,” Hardin said.
“Now that the criminal investigations have been completed, we are happy to move forward with the civil case depositions. We will vigorously defend those cases with every ounce we have.”
Watson had been accused of sexual misconduct by 22 women in civil lawsuits, alleging that he improperly touched the plaintiffs, who had been hired as massage therapists and personal trainers.
All 22 of the civil plaintiffs are represented by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who said eight of his clients were slated to testify before the grand jury.
Watson, a 26-year-old native of Gainesville, Georgia and Clemson University alumnus, has been in the league since 2017. But didn’t play at all this past season as his legal challenges unfolded and the Texans sought to trade their talented QB.
He was due to sit for civil depositions on Friday, but Buzbee said the quarterback has already informed him, through attorneys, that he won’t be cooperative.
“Mr. Watson and his legal team have said publicly time and again that Deshaun Watson is innocent and wants to clear his name,” Buzbee said, “yet when he is given the chance to do so, he intends to refuse to answer questions and instead plead the Fifth Amendment. If he had nothing to hide he should answer questions.”
Watson, through Hardin, has always maintained his innocence and denied he’s committed any acts of sexual misconduct.
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
Diana Dasrath is entertainment producer and senior reporter for NBC News covering all platforms.
The Associated Press