NFL investigating sexual assault claims made against Deshaun Watson

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The NFL is opening an investigation into the sexual assault claims levied against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Tony Buzbee, the high-profile Texas lawyer who has already filed three lawsuits on behalf of Jane Does and says nine women have hired him to make cases against Watson, posted on Instagram a letter labeled “confidential” that was sent to him by Lisa Friel, the NFL’s special counsel for investigations. Buzbee later deleted the post. The Texans confirmed in a statement that the league is reviewing the allegations under its personal conduct policy.

“I am writing to let you know that the League has opened an investigation into these allegations and to request the cooperation of your clients in our investigation,” Friel wrote Thursday in the letter posted by Buzbee. “Such cooperation would begin with engaging in Zoom interviews with myself and another League investigator at which, of course, you would be present. Please let me know at your earliest convenience if your clients are willing to assist us with our investigation of their allegations.”

Buzbee said on Instagram on Thursday that allegations from all nine women are “similar.” The first three lawsuits filed in Harris County, Texas allege that Watson sexually assaulted massage therapists. The first two allege the quarterback assaulted the women “by touching her with his penis.” Those two incidents allegedly took place in March and August of 2020, respectively, according to the suits.

The third lawsuit alleges Watson forced another massage therapist “to perform oral sex” on Dec. 28, 2020. Watson, according to the suit, “aggressively” dictated where the woman should touch him during a massage. He told her repeatedly to work on his “inner thighs” and “inner glutes.”

As the massage therapist became uncomfortable, Watson “made clear, repeatedly, that he was a professional football player, who could help, or hurt, her career,” the lawsuit claims. Later, Watson allegedly “got more aggressive” and told the woman to “slide her hand across his genitals,” according to the suit. Then, the suit alleges, Watson “coerced Plaintiff to move her mouth towards his penis, forcing Plaintiff to perform oral sex on him.”

Watson, 25, publicly denied the initial accusation but has not made any statements since. The three-time Pro Bowler is currently at odds with the Texans and has requested a trade.

“We continue to take this and all matters involving anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously,” the team said.

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