HOUSTON — An attorney for 22 women who have filed lawsuits accusing Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual assault and harassment said Wednesday that he and some of his clients have spoken to the FBI about the case.
Tony Buzbee told The Associated Press that the FBI “reached out to me, and I responded.” The FBI’s involvement was first reported Tuesday by League of Justice, a website that reports on sports and the law.
The revelation by Buzbee of the FBI’s involvement prompted Watson’s lead attorney to hold a news conference on Wednesday to say that the FBI had spoken with the quarterback earlier this year about allegations of extortion by one of his accusers.
In their lawsuits, the 22 women accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will during massage appointments.
Watson and his lawyers have denied the accusations. His lawyers have said “some sexual activity” happened during some of the appointments but that he never coerced anyone.
Houston police are investigating some of the accusations, but no charges have been filed. The NFL has launched its own probe.
At a news conference Wednesday, Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lead attorney, said FBI agents approached him in April over allegations that one of the women who has sued Watson tried to extort $30,000 from him. Hardin said agents interviewed Watson. The woman alleges Watson forced her to perform oral sex.
In an email, Christina Garza, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Houston office, said she could neither confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Hardin said grand jury subpoenas have been sent out in the investigation by local authorities, but he does not know details about them.
“When (prosecutors’) investigation is over, their findings will be presented to a grand jury. We will be given opportunity to appear … to tell our side and we will be given an even handed hearing,” Hardin said.
Watson’s future with the Texans remains unclear. Watson reported to the Texans training camp last month to avoid being fined. Watson signed a four-year, $160 million contract extension with the Texans in 2020 and led the NFL in yards passing last season. But before the lawsuits were filed, he had asked to be traded
Copyright by The 2021 Associated Press.
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