With Deshaun Watson facing 22 sexual misconduct and assault allegations, things haven’t looked great for the star quarterback.
The only thing preventing him from completely losing in the court of public opinion is that his accusers have remained anonymous, and they seem to refuse to press actual charges.
But late last week, Deshaun Watson’s legal team scored their first victory when a judge issued this order.
On Thursday, Deshaun Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, filed an emergency motion asking judges to hear the quarterback’s argument against keeping all 22 “Jane Doe’s” anonymous, which they believe is unlawful under Texas state law.
One of Hardin’s primary arguments in the motion was that the attorney for all 22 accusers, Tony Buzbee, was essentially asking the public to be the judge and jury by keeping all of the accusers anonymous.
“Mr. Buzbee is intent on conducting discovery by Facebook and trial by press conference,” Hardin said in a statement obtained by Outkick. “He is asking the public to act as judge and jury without ever allowing Mr. Watson to responsibly respond. Because Plaintiff’s counsel filed the actions anonymously, Mr. Watson’s counsel can only speculate about Plaintiff’s identity.”
“Yet, it would be wildly irresponsible for Mr. Watson or his defense team to publicly speculate about it. The risk of being wrong is simply too high.”
Of course, Buzbee responded by claiming that the motion filed by Watson’s legal team was nothing more than an “intimidation tactic.”
“[T]hese victims’ privacy rights outweigh the presumption of openness,” Buzbee claimed.
Well, late last week, a judge disagreed with Buzbee, and ruled in favor of the motion filed by Watson’s legal team, ordering 13 of the 22 women must resubmit their civil lawsuits with their names attached.
After the judge’s decision was handed down, Hardin held a press conference to discuss the case, and the importance having the accusers named in their lawsuits is to Watson’s ability to properly defend himself.
Hardin stated that with the instantaneous news cycle, when an accusation is made and immediately posted online, if someone in Deshaun Watson’s position isn’t able to give an immediate answer because an anonymous lawsuit precludes him from even knowing who his accuser is, the accusation sticks whether it’s true or not.
“That’s been one of the frustrations and problems here,” Hardin told the media. “So, in a public sense, Deshaun has been absent in his defense by his attorneys. […] Our firm does not intend to go out and talk to (the media), or the public, or anybody else before we have a comfort level about what really happened.”
#Watson’s lawyers held a press conference Friday after learning 13 plaintiffs would have to reveal their names in the civil lawsuits filed against the QB.
“So in a public sense, Deshaun has been absent in his defense by his attorneys,” Rusty Hardin said. – @Outkick pic.twitter.com/h3vJwtQbUH
— Meg Turner (@megnturner_) April 9, 2021
Hardin also said that all he’s asking “is that we give this man the same benefit that the woman should get. The woman should get the benefit that she may be telling the truth. The man should get the benefit also.”
During the press conference, Hardin also addressed the comments made by Ashley Solis, one of just two of Watson’s accusers who have actually spoken publicly.
Last Wednesday, Solis and another accuser, Lauren Baxley, appeared at a press conference with Buzbee, their attorney, to discuss their experiences.
Interestingly, at that time, Solis made it a point to say this was not about money for her, as some have speculated based on the fact that the suits have remained anonymous, and the accusers have all seemingly refused to take the matter to the police.
“People say I am doing this for money, that is wrong,” Solis said. “I come forward now to bring change in our society. I am seeking justice not just on behalf of myself but for all survivors.”
Hardin said on Friday that before the lawsuits were filed and the allegations made public, Solis requested $100,000 from Deshaun Watson in exchange for her remaining silent, and only chose to go public after the cash request was denied.
#DeshaunWatson’s attorney Rusty Hardin’s comments on the $100K demand during Friday’s press conference. pic.twitter.com/LBWr2g2pln
— Meg Turner (@megnturner_) April 9, 2021
As this case has been from the start, it remains the quintessential “he-said, she-said” situation.
But the fact that a judge has ruled that 13 of the accusers must resubmit their lawsuits with their names attached does at least advance this case in a direction that will hopefully lead to a clear resolution, rather than more speculation.
The next defining moment of this case appears to center on whether or not all 13 accusers who have been ordered to resubmit their lawsuits will actually do so.
Until the public can begin to learn concrete facts – like the names of the accusers for starters – this whole circus will merely continue to spiral out-of-control.
For everyone’s sake, this needs to begin moving towards a resolution, no matter where the truth may lie.
Sports with Balls will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.