Deshaun Watson has professed his innocence about the 22 complaints filed by multiple women. On Thursday, a second grand jury declined to indict the star quarterback.
Not only is this a victory for Deshaun, but also for faithful Browns fans who were split on the decision to bring in the talented QB that came serial sexual misconduct accusations.
Nobody wanted to be associated with someone accused of sexual assault, no matter how great his talent is on the field. Nobody.
Brazoria County (Texas) district attorney Tom (not the actor) Selleck released this statement after the findings:
“After a careful and thorough review of the facts and evidence documented in the reports prepared by the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office and the Houston Police Department, as well as hearing testimony from witnesses, the Grand Jury for Brazoria County has declined to charge Deshaun Watson with any crimes. Accordingly, this matter is closed.”
FOX 8 News in Cleveland broke the story.
This is the second grand jury ruling in Deshaun’s favor within a month. In that hearing on March 11, nine complaints were presented to the Harris County (Texas) prosecutor’s office. The end result in those proceedings was no criminal indictments were made. This means that the criminal accusations against Deshaun on those nine complaints were all dropped.
On Thursday, the 10th complaint was examined by the grand jury in Brazoria County, which is the location of the alleged crime. The grand jury heard a presentation of evidence from the Brazoria County prosecutor’s office as well as testimony before rendering their verdict that no criminal charges would be filed on the 10th complaint, which was not a new complaint.
Watson has claimed from the beginning stages that he was innocent of all charges or any wrongdoing.
After the first grand jury hearing cleared Deshaun, a fire storm broke out in an effort by multiple NFL clubs to trade with the Houston Texans for his services. He is a three-time Pro Bowler playing in just four seasons. In the end, the Browns broke the bank when they traded for him.
Deshaun will still face multiple civil lawsuits from 22 different women but now will not face any criminal charges whatsoever.
The attorney for the 22 women, Tony Buzbee, stated this regarding the Browns organization:
“No one from the Browns organization reached out to me or my clients. I didn’t expect them to. I would have certainly talked to them had they asked to talk to any of my clients and had the clients wanted to do so I would have allowed that to happen.”
Even though the criminal charges never surfaced, Buzbee indicated that the civil lawsuits would proceed. He even indicated that he believes each suit has merit.
“Each of these women has been pretty confident, pretty consistent about what has happened to them. I feel the women’s civil cases are very strong.”
Deshaun sat out the entire 2021 season while this investigation played out which was nearly a full year after the first civil lawsuit was filed against him.
Civil trials are a lot different to criminal trials. In the latter, the jury must reach an unanimous decision while the prosecution must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt against the defendant.
Not so in civil cases. The burden of proof is flipped whereas the plaintiff must prove that their intentions are true and that the other party caused them damages or suffering. But the higher the stakes the more difficult it is to satisfy that the defendant caused harm to the plaintiffs. Usually, a plaintiff has to demonstrate to the jury that the defendant is more than 50% responsible for their damages.
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam issued this statement:
“We are acutely aware and empathetic to the highly personal sentiments expressed about this decision. Our team’s comprehensive evaluation process was of utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of his situation and the complex factors involved. We also understand there are still some legal proceedings that are ongoing and we will respect due process.”
In Deshaun’s four seasons before being sidelined with the legal issues, he started 53 games with 1,186 completions on 1,748 attempts for 14,539 yards, 104 touchdowns, 36 interceptions, completion ratio of 67.8% with an average QB rating of 104.5. Deshaun rushed for 1,677 yards on 307 attempts with 17 touchdowns and 111 rushes for first downs. His sack total of 174 times was one of his objections to the front office about building up the offensive line.
Watson led the NFL in passing yards in 2020 and has been very durable.
In addition, the NFL’s investigation into whether Deshaun violated the league’s personal conduct policy is still ongoing. As has been the case in the past with athletes who were or were not charged criminally, the NFL just could — and probably will — give Deshaun a suspension.