Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson admitted to sending an apologetic text to a massage therapist after she cried when their session ended in a pre-trial deposition last week, according to USA Today.
The deposition was taken on behalf of the therapist, Ashley Solis, the first of 22 women who have sued Watson and accused him of sexual misconduct and sexual assault during massage sessions from early 2020 to March 2021.
According to a partial transcript obtained by USA Today, Watson said he contacted Solis after her reaction but claimed he did not know why she cried, according to her attorney, Tony Buzbee.
“Sorry about you feeling uncomfortable. Never were the intentions. Lmk if you want to work in the future. My Apologies,” Watson’s text read.
In the deposition, Buzbee asked Watson, “But you know why you sent that text apology afterwards?”
Watson replied, “Yes, because she was teary-eyed, and I was trying to figure out what was going on. So, I assumed that she was uncomfortable in whatever reason. And we talked about working in the future. And so, I said, ‘We can work in the future. Just let me know.’ And then I sent my apologies as whatever reason she was teary-eyed for.”
Solis did not reply to Watson’s text, according to her lawsuit. The encounter took place at the therapist’s Houston-area home on March 30, 2020.
NFL officials are meeting with Watson this week in Texas as the league continues to investigate whether he violated his personal conduct policy.
Watson, who is facing 22 civil lawsuits from massage therapists accusing him of sexual misconduct, is meeting with NFL officials this week in Texas as the league continues to investigate whether he violated his personal conduct policy.
The meeting with league officials is a significant development for the three-time Pro Bowler, who signed a fully guaranteed $230m contract in March with the Browns after initially turning down a trade to Cleveland.
The Browns, who sent three first-round draft picks and six total selections to the Texans for Watson, are eager to find out if they’ll be without him for any portion of this season after making such a major investment.
In March, two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints from 10 women. He has denied all wrongdoing and said during a news conference with the Browns in April that he “never assaulted or disrespected or harassed any woman in my life”.
Watson has given depositions in several of the civil cases. To this point, he has not missed any of Cleveland’s offseason programs.
It’s not clear with whom Watson will be meeting this week.
Lisa Friel, a former prosecutor in New York, has been heading the investigation. Once it is completed, former US district court judge Sue Robinson, a disciplinary officer jointly appointed by the league and NFL Players Association, will decide if Watson violated the conduct policy and will report to Goodell.
There is some previous in this type of case. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended six games by the league in 2010 after a 20-year-old college student accused him of sexually assaulting her. The punishment was later reduced to four games.
As his future with the Browns remains uncertain, Watson is treating some of his new teammates to a weekend in the Bahamas to do some bonding and field work. It’s not known which players will be making the trip with Watson.