Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson says he regrets the impact the sexual misconduct allegations against him have had on those around him.
Watson is the subject of 24 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct toward massage therapists. Watson denied the allegations but said on Tuesday he regretted the repercussions for those close to him.
“I really understand that I feel sorry about the impact … on society and people outside of myself only,” Watson told reporters at the Browns training facility. This includes my family. This organization includes. That includes my teammates in this locker room who have to answer these questions. Includes Cleveland Browns fan base. This includes males and females, everyone around the world. That’s one thing I regret is the impact it’s had on so many people. It’s hard to deal with.”
The New York Times reported last week that Watson employed at least 66 women for massages between 2019 and 2021. Some of those women have filed complaints against the 26-year-old, while fewer say he acted appropriately. On Tuesday, Watson again denied any wrongdoing although he said he had consensual sexual relations with some women.
“Like I said, I didn’t get used to anyone,” he said. “I have never abused anyone. I have never disdained anyone. I have never forced anyone to do anything.”
The NFL is investigating the allegations against Watson separately and could face a lengthy suspension if the league finds it violated its personal conduct policy. Two grand jurors in Texas have refused to indict Watson over criminal complaints filed by 10 of his defendants.
“I can’t control it. I did everything they asked me to do. I honestly answered every question the NFL asked me,” Watson said Tuesday of the NFL investigation. “I’ve spent hours with the people who brought them down. That’s all I can do is be honest and tell them exactly what happened. They have a job and so I have to respect that. And that’s what we want to do is collaborate. They have to make a decision that’s what’s best for the league.”
Watson went on to say that the allegations affected his mental health.
“It has been tough…but I have a wonderful family. I have a great legal team. And I have a great support team here at this organization,” he said. “I go every day and I’m forced into my mission and being the best person I can be. I can’t control what the other party does with the legal process. I just have to keep focusing solely on being the best Deshaun Watson I can be for this organization.”
Watson, a three-time professional player who turned 27 in September, missed the entirety of last season due to a row with his Houston Texans, as allegations against him mounted. He was eventually traded to Al Brown, who handed him a fully secured contract worth $230 million. Last month, one of his accusers, Ashley Solis, told HBO that the contract was an insult.
“It’s like a big spiral for you,” Solis said. “That’s how I feel. That we don’t care. He can run and throw, and that’s what we care about.”