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Judge rules that Texans QB Deshaun Watson can be questioned in 9 of 22 civil cases

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Judge rules that Texans QB Deshaun Watson can be questioned in 9 of 22 civil cases
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (L) could soon face his accusers and answer questions under oath as part of nine civil cases he faces amid accusations of harassment and sexual assault. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 22 (UPI) -- A Houston judge ruled Deshaun Watson can be questioned under oath in some of the 22 civil cases women filed against the Houston Texans star alleging instances of harassment and sexual assault, attorneys representing both sides said.

Tony Buzbee, who represents the accusers, told reporters that Harris County 113th District Court Judge Rabeea Collier ruled Monday in a special hearing that women who have already been deposed -- questioned under oath -- and did not file a criminal complaint against Watson can have the quarterback deposed immediately.

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That total includes nine women, but the timing of the proceedings is dependent on the lawyers' schedules. Watson did not attend Monday's hearing.

Seven civil lawsuits were initially filed against the Texans quarterback last March in Harris County District Court, accusing him of inappropriate contact with massage therapists in 2020. Watson continued to the deny the allegations, as his list of accusers more than doubled.

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Watson could opt to exercise his Fifth Amendment right to silence in that testimony in the civil case so that it does not impact a potential criminal case against him.

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The eight women who filed criminal complaints against Watson will need to wait until at least April 1 to have Watson questioned under oath.

"Deshaun Watson's team as loudly and publicly claimed that he is innocent and wants nothing more than to clear his name," Buzbee told reporters. "Yet, as you can see from the hearing, he does not want to sit in a room and face his accusers and answer questions under oath. [On Monday], he sought more delay."

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Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, had asked through a motion to postpone the depositions, but that motion was partially denied.

Hardin said in court on Monday that he expects the Harris County District Attorney to decide by April 1 whether or not Watson will be criminally charged.

"At the end of the day, this remains a really good man who I would suggest to you is being incredibly unfairly treated," Hardin told reporters. "We are going to do everything we can to make sure everybody is always reminded of that."

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The NFL also continues to investigate the quarterback and could issue discipline if it finds he violated the league's personal conduct policy, even if he isn't criminally charged.

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Watson, 25, entered the league as the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The three-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and threw a career-high 33 touchdown passes in 2020, but did not play during the 2021 season amid the legal battle.

Watson, who signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension in 2020, previously requested a trade from the Texans.

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