Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski told reporters on Wednesday that the organization will “be respectful of the legal proceedings” regarding quarterback Deshaun Watson, and he declined to comment on Tuesday’s New York Times report detailing new allegations regarding Watson’s history of hiring women for massage therapy sessions.
“I think for me, I’m going to be respectful of the investigation, of the legal proceedings and let that play out,” Stefanski said following Wednesday’s OTA practice.
The Times reported that Watson hired at least 66 different women between fall 2019 and spring 2021. While the Times reported that “most of the women Watson saw for massages did not sue or call the police,” the article states “even some who did not complain said Watson came looking for sex.”
Two additional lawsuits were filed in the past week alleging that Watson committed sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions, bringing the total number of civil cases against Watson to 24.
When asked about the new allegations against Watson, Stefanski on multiple occasions said that the team would let the legal situation proceed before commenting further.
Stefanski also was asked if Watson’s status as the Browns’ franchise quarterback had been affected. Watson signed a fully guaranteed $230 million contract in March after he was traded from Houston to Cleveland.
“We’re here making sure we get a good practice in; the guys did a nice job out there today. I’m not going to comment past that,” Stefanski said. “We’ll be respectful of the process, be respectful of the legal proceedings.”
Watson, 26, has previously denied any wrongdoing and maintained any sex with the women was consensual. Two grand juries in Texas have declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints filed by 10 women.
Watson is facing potential discipline from the NFL, which is independently investigating whether he violated the league’s personal-conduct policy.
League investigators have interviewed Watson in Houston previously. At the Spring League Meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is “nearing the end of the investigation” into Watson, but Goodell did not provide a timeline for a decision to be announced.
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