The Houston Police Department has spoken to at least 10 women who have accused Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of crimes from unwanted touching to sexual assault, according to records obtained by The New York Times.
The records are heavily redacted, and do not reveal the names of the complainant or the suspect, but they were released in response to a request for all records related to Watson or his home address in Houston.
A brief summary of each complaint is one of the few lines left unredacted in the documents. “Complainant stated that the suspect touched her inappropriately and exposed himself,” read one. Another said: “Complainant was sexually assaulted by the suspect. One suspect. No arrest. Complainant willing to prosecute.”
Houston police spoke to the women between April 2 and May 20 of this year, and dates of when they say the offenses occurred ranged from September 2019 to December 2020. Watson has not been charged with any crimes.
On March 16 of this year, the attorney Tony Buzbee announced that he was filing a lawsuit against Watson, accusing him of misconduct against an unnamed woman. Buzbee now represents 22 women who have sued Watson.
In addition to the 10 women who have spoken to Houston police, the F.B.I. is investigating the case, according to Buzbee and Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin. Watson has spoken to the F.B.I., and Hardin has said agents are investigating one of Buzbee’s clients for extortion, while Buzbee has said they are investigating Watson’s conduct.
The status of the criminal investigations into Watson’s conduct is unclear. Spokespeople for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the F.B.I. did not respond to requests for comment, while a Houston police spokesman referred to the department’s statement from April 2 which reads, in part, “As with any allegation, the Houston Police Department is now conducting an investigation and will not comment further during the investigative process.”
Last month, a Houston television station reported that a grand jury had been convened in the case. Under Texas law, every potential felony charge goes before a grand jury.
Watson has not talked with police investigators, nor has he spoken with N.F.L. investigators about the accusations, Hardin said in an interview Friday. “The police have made no attempt to reach out to Deshaun, and we don’t expect law enforcement to do so until they complete an investigation,” Hardin said, adding that he would be surprised if the police investigation concluded before October.
“The prosecutor has told us from the beginning that ultimately when the investigation is over, their findings will be presented to a grand jury,” Hardin said at a news conference last month. “We will be given the opportunity to tell our side, and we will get an evenhanded hearing.”
In an interview earlier this week, Hardin said, “Every single week we are finding out more that makes us increasingly more comfortable that none of these cases will lead to valid criminal charges.”
Hardin said he will begin questioning the accusers in the civil cases at depositions that will start this month. Watson’s deposition should happen by February, he said.
The Times requested the records from the Houston police in April, but they were not provided until Friday.
The police department asked the office of the Texas attorney general to rule on whether the records sought were exempt from disclosure. An assistant attorney general wrote in June that information that consists of the “detection, investigation or prosecution of crime” was exempt, but that basic information about an arrested person, an arrest or a crime is not. That basic information was what was released.
One party that has not yet spoken to Watson: The N.F.L. has spoken to a number of the women who have sued Watson, according to Buzbee, but Hardin has said league investigators have not yet spoken to Watson. In cases involving criminal investigations, the N.F.L. typically waits until those investigations are completed before interviewing the player.
The Texans open their season against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 12, and it is unclear whether Watson will start at quarterback, or whether he will still be on the team. Watson participated in some of Houston’s training camp, though he did not play in any of the team’s three preseason games. According to numerous reports he has asked to be traded, a request that has been difficult to fulfill given legal and criminal investigations.
Juliet Macur contributed reporting.