HOUSTON – The names of 13 of the 22 women who have filed lawsuits accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and harassment will be made public following court hearings Friday.
During two hearings, Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, asked that the names of the 13 women, who have sued under the name Jane Doe, be publicly identified so his client can “have a chance at properly defending himself.”
Tony Buzbee, the lawyer for the 22 women, argued against releasing their names, saying doing so could put their lives in danger. One of two accusers who made their names public during a news conference Tuesday has already received death threats, Buzbee said.
The 22 women accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will while he got a massage. At least one woman has alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex. All of the women are either licensed massage therapists or worked in a spa or similar business.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Hardin said that during some of the massages “some sexual activity would have taken place” but that “never at any time under any circumstances did this young man ever engage in anything that was not mutually desired by the other party.”
During the first of Friday’s court hearings, state District Judge Dedra Davis ordered that the lawsuit of one woman be refiled within two days with her name on it.
At a second hearing related to lawsuits filed by 12 other women, Buzbee told state District Judge Rabeea Collier that nine of the women had agreed to make their names public. Collier then ordered the other three to refile their lawsuits with their names included.
Court records show Hardin has filed motions asking that the seven remaining women who have not revealed their names also make their identities public. Hardin said he and Buzbee later Friday agreed to make the name public in one of those cases.