Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will not face any criminal charges, according to his attorney, Rusty Hardin, and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
A grand jury heard 10 criminal complaints accusing Watson of sexual misconduct.
The closed proceedings began Friday morning at the courthouse. He was not charged with a crime.
A no bill, meaning no charges, meant that less than nine jurors recommended charging the three-time Pro Bowl selection with a crime.
Watson could have potentially be charged with anything from sexual assault, a second-degree felony, to misdemeanor charges of indecent assault or harassment. Meanwhile, Watson will be taking his first deposition from 22 civil lawsuits alleging inappropriate behavior in his sessions with massage therapists.
The deposition of Watson lasted roughly 2 1/2 hours and was conducted by plaintiffs’ attorney, Tony Buzbee, and was held at Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin’s office. Watson invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, on Hardin’s advice. Hardin emphasized that taking the Fifth is not an admission of guilt.
“We had a meaningless exercise today, but it went fine,” Hardin said in a telephone interview after the deposition. “Deshaun took the Fifth. Buzbee asked a bunch of questions. It was all a media moment. I warned Tony that Deshaun wasn’t going to answer any questions on advice of counsel. I suggested he put it off until Monday, but he wouldn’t do that.
“He wants to create a media moment where he gets to ask very salacious questions. Then, when Deshaun takes the Fifth, he’ll release those questions to try to make Deshaun look bad. It won’t work. No lawyer in the universe would allow his client to answer questions about subject matter that’s under investigation by the grand jury.”
Law enforcement sources said repeatedly that no DNA, audio, or video evidence has been found or submitted by police detectives investigating the allegations. Hardin said previously that the NFL player had consensual sex with some of the plaintiffs. Eight of Buzbee’s clients, plaintiffs in the civil lawsuits, were subpoenaed by the grand jury.
“It’s a non-starter because neither I or any lawyer in the free world will allow their client to give testimony in a civil case while those same issues are being heard by a grand jury,” Hardin said in a telephone interview. “Tony Buzbee didn’t want to delay. It’s unfortunate. Deshaun will be glad to testify when I advise him to.
“This is a civil matter. That’s where we believe it should be heard, not in the criminal court system. If Tony Buzbee wants to waste his time asking questions, that’s fine. Deshaun will not answer those questions. Deshaun will testify when the grand jury has completed its work.”
Hardin said during a press conference previously that the NFL player had consensual sex with some of the plaintiffs. It’s expected that the list of teams interested in Watson will grow exponentially if his legal problems are resolved favorably. Up to 10 NFL teams are actively monitoring the Watson situation, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
In particular, the Carolina Panthers are seriously engaged in wanting to trade for the three-time Pro Bowl selection. One source even characterized their level of interest as “all-in.”
Panthers owner David Tepper previously hired an investigator to thoroughly look into Watson’s legal issues. The Panthers have spoken with the Texans, as have other NFL teams.
Tepper has remained extremely interested in possibly acquiring Watson — who has a no-trade clause in his $156 million contract and would have to sign off on any possible trade — for over a year, according to sources. It’s no secret around the training facility of the NFC South franchise that the team is intrigued by the possibility of acquiring the former Clemson star.