Accusers in Deshaun Watson case subpoenaed to appear before grand jury
At least eight women have been subpoenaed to testify in a criminal grand jury proceeding Friday in Houston that could determine the future of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The women have accused Watson of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions and are part of a criminal investigation that has looked into whether Watson committed criminal assault, according to court records. The eight women also were among 22 women who filed civil lawsuits against him last year as his NFL career came to a halt.
“Eight of my clients have been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury,” Tony Buzbee, the women’s attorney, said in an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports Tuesday. “They will gladly do so.”
Buzbee also confirmed that Watson is scheduled to sit for depositions in two of the 22 separate civil cases Friday as well, though he is not expected to answer questions under the advice of his counsel, Rusty Hardin.
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Hardin had tried to delay Watson’s civil depositions until after a decision came in the criminal investigation, which he said was expected by April 1. Hardin, who denies the accusations against his client, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.
A grand jury decision on whether to indict Watson could be huge for him either way. If he’s not indicted, the criminal case could go away and Watson only would face the civil cases, which he could drag out or settle before trial, leading to a likely quicker return to the NFL. If he is indicted, he could be facing jail time, including up to a year for a charge of misdemeanor indecent assault, which is named as a possible offense in several of these cases, according to court records obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
The NFL also has investigated him and could suspend him either way.
At least 10 women have filed criminal complaints against Watson, eight of whom are clients of Buzbee.
“I’m told that Mr. Watson doesn’t intend to answer questions during the deposition on Friday, even though I will only be asking about his experience with two of the women who did not file criminal complaints,” Buzbee said in an email. “Mr. Watson and his team have said publicly time and again Deshaun Watson is innocent and wants to clear his name, yet when he is given the chance to do so, he intends to refuse to answer questions and instead plead the Fifth Amendment.”
The District Attorney’s office in Harris County, Texas, didn’t return a message seeking comment.
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org