Deshaun Watson will not face charges on nine criminal complaints following a police investigation into 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct in massage sessions, a grand jury in Harris Country, Texas, determined Friday.
Nine women made criminal complaints against Watson, eight of which were represented by Tony Buzbee (who is the main attorney for the 22 women that sued the Texans quarterback). Eight of those women testified before the grand jury Friday.
The grand jury returned nine no bills on the complaints presented to prosecutor Johna Stallings, who issued this statement:
"Today we presented nine criminal complaints for consideration by the grand jury. Beginning at 9 o'clock this morning, we presented evidence for over six hours for the grand jury to consider, as well as having witnesses available for those persons to testify in front of the grand jury," said Stallings, of the division chief of adult sex crimes and trafficking at the Harris County District attorney's office. "And the grand jury considered all of that evidence and returned nine no bills against Deshaun Watson involving these nine criminal complaints. We respect the grand jury's decision and ... conclude the criminal proceedings in Harris County."
Watson also released a statement after the grand jury decision (via Pro Football Network's Aaron Wilson).
"I thank everyone that was a part of this, of seeing and hearing both sides," Watson said. "That's what my team wanted was to have a fair slate of us telling our side of the story and letting the conclusion come down to what happened today and that's what the grand jury decided
"I'm going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community,. We're going to continue on the legal side to handle what we need to handle, but also ready to get back on the field, been prepping for that and ready to go for that.
"I thank my family, all my close supporters that's been behind me this past year, I thank my team for keeping me up this past year. I'm going to continue to keep pushing forward to build my name to where it was, if not better."
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, also released a statement (via NFL Network's Ian Rapoport) -- saying "It's time to let Deshaun move on."
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"We are 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.
"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. There were no crimes here, but there is a plaintiffs' attorney churning up negative press and churning up his clients' hoping for a payday. These cases have been the product of a lawyer maximizing his own personal publicity at the expense of owners, including his own clients."
The NFL was investigating Watson for nearly a year, as he initially faced 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct in massage sessions. The ongoing cases made it difficult for the league and the Houston Texans to take any action regarding a possible suspension or trade. Watson was not placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List because the league couldn't conclude that a major violation occurred.
In a statement, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said the league has "been closely monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy."
Watson collected a $10.5 million salary in 2021 while sitting out the entire season. Watson, who asked to be traded prior to the allegations, is expected to have multiple teams interested in him for 2022 and beyond -- including the Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers.