HOUSTON – One of the 23 women who have filed lawsuits accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and harassment has dropped her case, citing privacy and security concerns after some of the women were ordered to make their names public following court hearings last week.
In court documents filed late Tuesday, the woman’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, said she “reserves the right to refile the case once such concerns are addressed.”
Buzbee has said the women have faced death threats and attacks on social media since accusing Watson and had wanted them to be allowed to remain anonymous.
The 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.
After the one woman dropped her case, that had left 21 lawsuits pending. But on Wednesday afternoon, another woman filed a lawsuit, bringing the total number of cases to 22. The latest lawsuit was filed with the woman's name.
All the previous lawsuits had been filed under the name Jane Doe. But after two court hearings last week and agreements between Buzbee and Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, the other 21 women were expected make their names public by having their lawsuits refiled with their names. As of Wednesday, 20 of the women had refiled their lawsuits with their names on them. The remaining woman was expected to do the same by Thursday.
“It appears the Watson team thinks that if these courageous women are forced to identify themselves, they would slink away and not pursue this matter. Watson and his counsel badly miscalculated,” Buzbee said in a statement Tuesday.
In criminal cases, individuals alleging sexual assault are usually not named as the case proceeds through the criminal justice system. Texas law does not offer similar protections in civil cases.