Deshaun Watson’s attorneys appeared on a Houston sports radio station on Friday to discuss the 23 civil lawsuits against the Cleveland Browns quarterback, all of them from women alleging varying levels of sexual impropriety they were subjected to during massage appointments with Watson.
Toward the end of the interview, attorney Rusty Hardin made a blithe comment that was equal parts ignorant and rage-inducing, and potentially of interest to NFL investigators.
“I don’t know how many men out there now that have had a massage that perhaps occasionally there was a happy ending. Alright?” Hardin began. “Maybe there’s nobody in your listening audience that ever happened to.
“I want to point out: if it has happened, it’s not a crime. OK? Unless you are paying somebody extra or so to give you some type of sexual activity, it’s not a crime. … Doing something or saying something or being a way that makes you uncomfortable is not a crime.”
Hardin has said there was consensual sexual activity between Watson and some of the women. Based on the fact that 23 women have filed lawsuits, not all of the massage therapists Watson had appointments with consented to what happened during their interactions with him.
Hardin is trying to win his client points in the court of public opinion, but at this point, whether or not what Watson did was criminal doesn’t matter. Two grand juries declined to indict him on charges, which means he’s free of criminal inquiry but his innocence is still up for scrutiny in civil court.
Hardin saying “making someone uncomfortable is not a crime” is callous, untrue, and also not the discussion at this point. What matters now is whether Watson engaged in behavior that he can be held liable for in civil court. There’s a far different standard in civil court than criminal court. The NFL’s personal conduct policy also has different standards.
What always matters is consent.
As Deshaun Watson faces civil lawsuits from 23 women, the NFL is investigating if the Browns…