HOUSTON – The name Jane Doe has become to be a hardship for the defense team for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Attorney Tony Buzbee has filed 16 lawsuits against Watson alleging sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Watson is accused of contacting these women, many of who are licensed massage therapists, on Instagram, according to the lawsuits.
During the massage sessions, the lawsuits allege that in some cases Watson exposes himself to the women, touches them with his genitals and in one case a woman said he forced her into performing oral sex on him.
The commonality in the all of lawsuits is that the plaintiff’s name is listed as Jane Doe, which is not typically seen in civil cases, according to KPRC 2 legal analyst Brian Wice.
“Over the course of the last ten days, Deshaun Watson must feel like a hitchhiker in a west Texas hailstorm. He can’t run. He can’t hide and he can’t make it stop,” said Wice. “Tony Buzbee has been successful in waging war on Deshaun Watson’s credibility in the court of public opinion and he’s been able to do that, in my estimation, in large part because the defense doesn’t really have a sense of who these plaintiffs are.”
Earlier this week, Watson’s defense team released a statement in which they believe they were able to identify one plaintiff.
“…in the one case in which we have been able to identify a plaintiff, we have strong evidence showing the allegation is false,” said Watson’s defense attorney Rusty Hardin. “In January of this year, a woman attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in exchange for her ‘indefinite silence’ about what she stated was a consensual encounter.”
Outside of that plaintiff, it is not clear if the defense team knows the identity of the other Jane Does, which prevents them from offering a defense publicly.
“We have the right in a civil or criminal court case to confront or cross-examine our accusers and in a situation when you only know the plaintiff as Jane Doe, it is virtually impossible and that of course creates issues of fundamental fairness and due process and a level playing field,” said Wice.
Buzbee is well within his rights to file these lawsuits with the plaintiffs named as Jane Does, but the accusers’ identities will eventually need to be revealed if the cases do go forward in civil court, according to Wice.
Either way, Wice said damage has already been done for Watson.
“I think it’s a double-barreled shotgun that Deshaun Watson finds himself facing right now. On the one hand, the standard NFL player’s contract gives the Texans the right to void Deshaun’s contract under the so-called morality clause. On the other hand, the NFL can (suspend) Deshaun indefinitely based upon the collective bargaining agreement even if charges are never brought or Deshaun is not convicted let alone sentenced.”