Criminal Justice

Grand jury declines to indict Deshaun Watson on criminal charges related to sexual assault claims

The investigation came after lawsuits filed by 22 women who accused Watson of sexual assault.

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) practices with the team during NFL football practice Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Houston. A judge has declined efforts by attorneys for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to delay all his depositions in connection with lawsuits filed by 22 women who have accused him of sexual assault and harassment. During a court hearing Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, defense attorney Rusty Hardin asked that depositions be delayed until the end of a criminal investigation.

A Harris County grand jury declined to indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on criminal charges Friday, the district attorney’s office said.

The investigation came after lawsuits filed by 22 women who accused Watson of sexual assault. Eight of those women also came forward to file criminal complaints with HPD, along with two other women unrelated to the suits.

A spokesman for Harris County DA Kim Ogg declined to provide details on the proceedings.

“After a Harris County grand jury was presented all the evidence and had the opportunity to hear from all witnesses, grand jurors declined to indict Deshaun Watson,” said the spokesman, Dane Schiller. “Grand jury proceedings are secret by law, so no information related to their inquiry may be disclosed.”

Most of the suits accuse Watson of exposing himself and touching and kissing them against their will during massage appointments. One woman also accused the quarterback of forcing her to perform a sex act. The quarterback has denied any wrongdoing.

Watson has admitted to sexual activity, but his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has argued the acts were consensual.

"We are delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did. Deshaun Watson did not commit any crimes and is not guilty of any offenses,” Hardin wrote in a statement. “Now that the criminal investigations have been completed, we are happy to move forward with the civil case depositions. We will vigorously defend those cases with every ounce we have.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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Paul DeBenedetto

Paul DeBenedetto

Senior Producer

Paul DeBenedetto is Houston Public Media's senior digital producer, writing and editing stories for HoustonPublicMedia.org. Before joining the station, Paul worked as a web producer for the Houston Chronicle, and his work has appeared online and in print for the Chronicle, the New York Times, DNAinfo New York, and other...

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