Deshaun Watson’s attorney said in a news conference Friday that the Houston Texans quarterback did engage in sexual activity during massage sessions but that the encounters were consensual.
The attorney, Rusty Hardin, acknowledged that there were “sometimes consensual encounters” during Watson’s massage sessions. When later asked to clarify, Hardin said “we’ve never run from it” and the question “has always been about consent.”
“I’m not going into what it is, the nature, the numbers or with whom,” Hardin said. “The question always, that we have always been emphasizing: Never, at any time, under any circumstances … did this young man ever engage in anything that was not mutually desired by the other party.”
Watson, 25, has been accused of sexual misconduct or assault in lawsuits filed by 22 women dating back to mid-March. The women have generally alleged that he exposed himself or touched them with his genitals during massage sessions.
Flanked by four female attorneys, Hardin reiterated that “we do not believe the allegations” and defended both Watson’s character and some of his actions related to the massages.
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Hardin said Watson has received about two or three massages per week over the past four years. When asked why Watson has sought massages from so many different massage therapists over the past calendar year, Hardin cited the quarterback’s ever-changing schedule and COVID-19 protocols, among other reasons.
Some of the other attorneys on Hardin’s team also offered passionate defenses of Watson and his character. Attorney Letitia Quinones, who said she is a survivor of sexual assault, spoke about Watson’s upbringing and characterized him as someone who is still reconciling with his fame and public persona.
“This 25-year-old young man was thrown into the depths of something he wasn’t accustomed to,” she said.
Another attorney, Rachel Lewis, said she did not know who Watson was prior to taking on his case but has spent several hours with him.
“I can tell you that this man is not capable of the things that are in the allegations,” Lewis said.
“He is a good man. He does not deserve this.”