As Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to falter in the court of public opinion, two of his attorneys gave a lengthy radio interview Friday morning regarding the case.
Rusty Hardin and Leah Graham appeared on Sports Radio 610 in Houston. They answered many questions about the 23 pending civil cases against Watson. Both lawsuits allege sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.
Hardin and Graham said many things that are worth studying and analyzing. Towards the end of the interview, Harden had to say this about the possibility that Watson was receiving massages from many different therapists with the expectation, hope, and/or desire that the matter would take a sexual turn. In fact, Watson and his attorneys admitted that consensus activities occurred with three of the plaintiffs who sued him.
“I don’t know how many men there are now who have had massages and there may have been a happy ending sometimes,” Hardin said. “Perhaps no one in your listening audience has ever had this happen. I want to point out, if it does, It’s not a crime. yes? Unless you’re paying someone extra or so to give you some kind of sexual activity, that’s not a crime. . . . Doing something, saying something, or behaving in a way that makes you uncomfortable is not a crime.”
But we’re not talking about criminal behavior at this point in the process. The question is whether a civil violation occurred – something that is not a crime but constitutes conduct that would allow the plaintiff to obtain fair compensation.
An equally important question for Watson is whether his behavior violated the Personal Conduct Policy. If he arranges massages in the hope of a “happy ending” and associates himself in a way that makes many massage therapists uncomfortable, this likely amounts to “behavior that presents a real danger to the safety and well-being of another person” and/or “behavior that undermines or compromises integrity” NFL, NFL, or NFL.”
Hardin, Graham, and the rest of Watson’s legal team get paid to defend him. This is what they do. They didn’t get paid to say, ‘Look, Deschamps loves to get massages from strangers and maybe make them turn on sex. Sometimes, the therapist starts the massage. Sometimes, he has to make the first move. Sometimes, the massage therapist might not be’ Interested in doing it. Sometimes, a massage therapist might end up feeling uncomfortable or humiliated.”
Common sense suggests, based on 23 pending lawsuits against Watson, that he was doing just that. Does anyone think these massages were therapeutic? He is a professional athlete. He wants to find one person who consistently gives him the kind of massage that allows him to get the most out of his abilities, not a revolving door of people of varying levels of skill and experience who may or may not enhance his on-field performance – and who with one wrong move can weaken him.
He has every right to defend himself against these 23 cases, and to insist that he did nothing wrong before, during and after the trials. As Harden says more and more about the situation, he comes dangerously close to admitting that Watson already has a habit of looking for and/or getting “happy endings.” Should anyone be surprised that the healers who objected to these developments, once they realized that they had rights that could be pursued in court, decided to do so?
Harden and Graham continue to try to blame attorney Tony Busby for essentially having plaintiffs claim claims against Watson. So what if he did? Turn on the TV and try to watch for 20 minutes without seeing a commercial in which a lawyer or law firm tries to solicit certain types of people with certain types of suits against specific accused, from asbestos to talcum powder to weed eaters to truck accidents to workplace injuries of any kind. It is a civil suit that anyone can file, and from which their lawyers will make money.
Ultimately, the 23 pending cases will go to court and be decided by a jury unless settled. Ultimately, the NFL will make a decision on whether Watson violated the personal conduct policy. If Watson’s defense in Roger Goodell’s court is, “Have you got some happy endings? Sure. Was I trying to get more than that? Defy. But hey, that’s no offense,” Watson has little chance of avoiding a lengthy comment.