HOUSTON – A statement made by former Houston Texans player Deshaun Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, in regard to an ongoing slew of civil lawsuits is raising some eyebrows.
Hardin was on Houston’s SportsRadio 610 show Friday morning discussing the scandal involving Watson and nearly two dozen massage therapists who have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct during sessions.
Twenty-two lawsuits were filed against Watson in 2021 and another one just days ago. Houston attorney Tony Buzbee, who is representing all of the women, said a 24th is likely to be filed soon.
While Watson and his legal team have vehemently denied any wrongdoing, the star quarterback has admitted to having sexual activity with several of the masseuses, stressing that the encounters were consensual.
To Hardin, it seems, that is well within his rights.
“I do want to point out that if it has happen, it’s not a crime,” Hardin said on the radio program. “Unless you are paying somebody extra to give you some type of sexual activity it’s not a crime.”
That statement ruffled more than a few feathers as word of the interview began to spread.
A representative for Hardin released a statement, clarifying what the famed attorney meant.
“Deshaun Watson did nothing wrong. 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.”
The three-time Pro Bowl QB has recently inked a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract despite his legal entanglement and the cases still pending.
In addition to the legal woes, Watson is also facing a possible suspension from the NFL, which is independently investigating his behavior to see if he violated the league’s personal conduct policies.