HOUSTON – An attorney for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who’s accused of sexual assault and harassment in lawsuits filed by 16 women, on Tuesday questioned the allegations against the NFL player, claiming they were made following a failed attempt to blackmail his client for $30,000.
The women, in lawsuits filed in state court in Houston, accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will while he got a massage. All of the women who have sued Watson are either licensed massage therapists or worked in a spa or similar business.
Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, alleged in a statement that his legal team has “strong evidence” an accusation made by a woman they believe filed one of the lawsuits is false.
In her lawsuit, the woman alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex during a massage in December and that she “blacked out for a few minutes from the fear” of her encounter with Watson, which left her “terrified.”
Hardin alleges that in January, the woman demanded $30,000 in exchange for her “indefinite silence” for a consensual encounter she had with Watson.
Hardin provided a sworn affidavit from Bryan Burney, Watson’s marketing manager, who alleged he spoke with the woman, who told him she needed to be paid for her “silence.”
In his affidavit, Burney alleges he also spoke with the woman’s “business manager” and told him the demand for money “was extortion.”
“He responded, ‘It’s not extortion, it’s blackmail,’” Burney said.