Amended Watson lawsuits to ID all 22 plaintiffs

HOUSTON — Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said in a statement Tuesday night that his law firm will amend all of the lawsuits filed against Deshaun Watson to disclose the names of the plaintiffs, “even those not currently subject to any court order.”

The lawsuits, all originally filed on behalf of Jane Does from March 16 to April 2, allege inappropriate behavior and sexual assault against the Houston Texans quarterback.

Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told NFL Network on Tuesday that one of the women who filed one of the 22 lawsuits has dropped her civil case against Watson.

On Friday, two judges ruled that most of the plaintiffs suing Watson must identify themselves. The rulings from two hearings Friday covered 13 of the 22 lawsuits filed against Watson, while the attorneys also agreed to release a 14th name later in the day. Before Friday, only two women had been publicly identified.

Another emergency hearing to determine whether the remaining lawsuits should be amended had been scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m. CT in the 113th district court. That hearing was scheduled Tuesday afternoon, before Buzbee sent out his statement saying the law firm would amend all the petitions.

As of Tuesday evening, 11 lawsuits were amended and available on the Harris County District Clerk’s website.

In his statement, Buzbee said his law firm “previously attempted to make available to Defense Counsel the names of the plaintiffs suing Deshaun Watson, and intended to do so in due course.”

“We were concerned about the safety of these plaintiffs, and asked the Watson team to agree to a protective order where the identities could be used in litigation, but not broadcast to the world,” Buzbee’s statement continued.

In a statement last week, Hardin said when his law firm asked Buzbee “to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion.”

“While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword,” Hardin said in a statement on Thursday. “While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.”

Hardin acknowledged during a news conference on Friday that there were some “consensual encounters” between Watson and some of the 22 women who have filed lawsuits against him, but he said at no point did Watson engage in any acts that were not “mutually desired.”

“Were there sometimes consensual encounters? Yes,” Hardin said.

When asked to clarify his comments about Watson taking part in sex acts with some of the women who have filed lawsuits against him, Hardin replied, “In some of these massages there’s going to be no question. We’ve never run from it.”

In his statement on Tuesday, Buzbee said that while Watson “may now claim he had consent to do what he did” to these women, “in their minds he didn’t have consent.”

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