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Second grand jury declines to indict Deshaun Watson

Second grand jury declines to indict Deshaun Watson
A grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas declined to indict Deshaun Watson, marking the second grand jury to refrain from pursuing charges against the quarterback for alleged sexual assaults of massage therapists. File Photo by AJ Sisco/UPI | License Photo

March 24 (UPI) -- A second grand jury declined to pursue charges against Deshaun Watson amid multiple allegations of sexual assault during massage sessions in Texas.

The grand jury in Brazoria County, Texas, issued the decision after weighing the case against Watson, 26, alleging sexual assault against a massage therapist during a session in Pearland, Texas, in 2020 when he played quarterback for the NFL's Houston Texans.

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"After a careful 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 the witness, the grand jury for Brazoria County has declined to charge Deshaun Watson with any crimes," District Attorney Tom Selleck said in a statement. "Accordingly, this matter is closed."

A civil lawsuit filed by a woman against Watson describes incidents in Brazoria County in November 2020 in which Watson allegedly reached out to the massage therapist on Instagram to ask about her availability for a massage.

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The woman said she found the request odd because she was only a student at the time and did not have a massage therapy license.

She said Watson asked her to come to a private suite at his hotel, but she declined, at which point Watson began "barraging her with messages" and offered to drive to her mother's hose in Pearland to do the massage.

The suit described two encounters in Pearland in November 2020.

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In the first, Watson allegedly directed her to his groin area while he was wearing a small towel that kept sliding off, with the suit stating she refused to touch him there.

During the second encounter at the same location, the lawsuit states Watson's towel slipped off and exposed himself before he aggressively moved his penis toward the woman's hand and ejaculated on her hand and arm.

Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said Thursday he was thrilled that the Brazoria County grand jury chose not to pursue charges.

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"We've known all along what people who learn the facts also know -- Deshaun committed no crimes," Hardin said. "In fact, two separate grand juries have now found that there wasn't even probable cause to believe he committed a crime."

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Two weeks ago, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, voted to dismiss nine other charges against Watson after hearing six hours of testimony. Prosecutors declined to present a 10th charge.

Watson still faces 22 civil cases linked to his conduct at massage appointments, where he allegedly forced women into oral sex and touched them with his genitals.

Police began investigating Watson a year ago, when a woman filed a lawsuit on March 16, 2021, claiming that the quarterback became pushy and aggressive during a massage appointment at her home in March 2020. The other women came forward with similar stories within a month.

Watson asked to be traded from the Texans in January 2021 citing displeasure with the direction of the franchise and had not played for the team at all in the 2021 NFL season amid the request and the allegations but remained on the active roster and collected his base salary of $10.54 million.

Last week, following the decision from the Harris County grand jury, he agreed to waive his contract's no-trade clause and be traded to Cleveland Browns in exchange for three first-round draft picks -- including the No. 13 overall pick in next month's draft -- as well as a 2023 third-rounder and a 2024 fourth-round choice.

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The Browns also agreed to give Watson a new five-year, $230 million contract, that would see him earn $184 million over the first four years of his new deal -- a $48 million raise over what he was scheduled to earn under his contract with the Texans.

He also will receive a $45 million signing bonus as part of the deal, and the $230 million is fully guaranteed -- setting a record for the most guaranteed money given to an NFL player.

In a news conference after the first grand jury's decision Watson said he plans "to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community."

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