ON THE DEFENSE

Deshaun Watson's lawyer finally fires back

Rusty Hardin spoke with TMZ on Tuesday. Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images.

Deshaun Watson's lawyer, Rusty Hardin, released a statement on Tuesday claiming the allegations of sexual assault and harassment against Watson are false. He also stated that one of the plaintiffs tried to blackmail his client.

You can read the statement Hardin made to TMZ below:

"I want to emphasize at the outset that we and Deshaun recognize that sexual assault and harassment are not only unlawful, but morally wrong. It takes courage for women to come forward to report being mistreated, particularly when they attach their names to a lawsuit. We do not take these allegations lightly. However, fairness to the accused is equally as important."
"Opposing counsel has orchestrated a circus-like atmosphere by using social media to publicize 14 "Jane Doe" lawsuits during the past seven days in a manner calculated to inflame the public and malign Deshaun's otherwise sterling reputation. In addition, the tactic of refusing our requests to confidentially provide the names of the plaintiffs so we can fully investigate their claims makes uncovering the truth extremely difficult. Anonymity is often necessary as a shield for victims but opposing counsel has used it as a sword to publicly humiliate Deshaun before the truth‑seeking process can even begin."
"I believe that any allegation that Deshaun forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false. And in the one case in which we have been able to identify a plaintiff, we have strong evidence showing the allegation is false. In January of this year, a woman attempted to blackmail Deshaun by demanding $30,000 in exchange for her "indefinite silence" about what she stated was a consensual encounter. It is our belief this woman is the plaintiff in Cause No. 2021-15613. (Please see the attached declaration by Bryan Burney.) This calls into question the legitimacy of the other cases as well."
"We have received numerous unsolicited comments in the past week from many licensed massage therapists who have worked with Deshaun in recent years. These women describe him as a gentleman and a model client who never engaged in inappropriate conduct. Indeed, before these salacious claims, everyone who associated with Deshaun described him as an outstanding, respectful, and compassionate man."
"Again, we are taking the allegations very seriously but we ask only that people not rush to judgment, that people not be unduly influenced by opposing counsel's antics, and that they let fundamental fairness to both sides rule the day. Thank you for your patience and understanding."

The declaration by Bryan Burney can be seen here:

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio made the point that he wanted to see Watson's camp come out and make some kind of statement to deny the allegations against Watson this week. If anything, just to help with crisis management. Well, Watson's camp did exactly that in the statement above. So we'll see if Hardin's comments help Deshaun in terms of public relations moving forward.

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