HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — After a new lawsuit was recently filed against him by a woman claiming sexual misconduct during a massage therapy session, Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has filed a motion for sanctions against the law firm, claiming they filed the suit in "bad faith."
In the lawsuit filed in Harris County, Texas, by Universal Law Group on Oct. 13, the woman claimed Watson reached out to set up an appointment via Instagram in 2020 and, as a "small business owner," was actively trying to grow her business and expand her client base.
She accused Watson of trying to have sex with her, and when she refused, she claimed he was able to "pressure her into oral sex" before paying her $300 for her services despite her $115-an-hour rate.
However, in Watson's motion for sanctions, he submits messages he said the woman sent to him both right after the alleged incident and for months after. Watson claims that at least 35 messages went without response and included requests to meet again and her desire for what appears to be a relationship.
"This evidence undeniably establishes that while this may be a case of unrequited love, under no stretch of the imagination is this a case of assault. Had ULG performed even the most cursory investigation, it would have confirmed that fact," the motion says.
Watson's counsel, Rusty Hardin and Associates, claims that the woman was interviewed by their firm on Nov. 4, 2021, for a discovery subpoena, where she allegedly told them, “I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t intimidated. I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do. I didn’t do anything where I didn’t feel like it was safe," in regards to her encounter with Watson.
Hardin's firm also claims the woman said, "I would love to love him. Oh, my God. I would love to be in love and to love him...I don’t want to put criminal charges on him. It wasn’t criminal. We were in there playing around, and that was it."
The motion alleges this newest lawsuit "may be a case of unrequited love" but also that "under no stretch of the imagination is this a case of assault."
The motion points to the initial anonymous filing of the lawsuit under the identity "Jane Doe," Universal Law Group's failure to contact Hardin's firm about the suit before conducting media interviews, and failure to conduct an investigation into the woman's claims and text messages before filing the suit.
Messages submitted as evidence aim to prove Watson's claim that the petition was "filed in bad faith and for the purpose of harassing" him.
As part of the motion, Watson and his counsel are seeking monetary sanctions starting at $5,000 against the firm that filed the latest lawsuit against him, which they say is "less than one-third" of the costs he spent to learn the woman's identity upon the filing and then pursue legal action in response.
"Good cause exists for the imposition of this sanction because a monetary penalty will not only punish ULG—the primary offender—for its intentional bad acts but will—or should— also serve as a deterrent to future litigants," the motion states.
The latest lawsuit came after Watson settled 23 of the 24 lawsuits originally filed against him, claiming a range of sexual misconduct against him during massage therapy sessions.
In August, Watson was suspended for 11 games for violating the NFL's personal Conduct Policy.
Watson's suspension also requires him to undergo therapy and treatment as part of the settlement, which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently said he has so far fulfilled.
You can read the full motion with the evidence submitted by Watson's counsel here. The messages contain graphic content.