Although Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has not been indicted in any of the 10 criminal complaints filed against him, Houston Police Detective Kamcha Baker testified last week that based on her investigations, she believed Watson had committed multiple crimes. Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports has obtained a copy of the transcript of Baker’s testimony, which is not subject to any kind of court order. I solved it well
Three important points stand out. They are summarized below.
First, attorney Rusty Harden in his cross-examination introduces the misleading idea (as co-counsel Leah Graham explained last week) that the presumption of innocence applied at trial should also apply at the investigative stage. Harden and Graham essentially believe that when a woman files a criminal complaint alleging sexual misconduct, the response of law enforcement should be skepticism and sarcasm, not support and comfort.
Consider how, according to Harden and Graham’s view of the system, it would proceed if/when a woman files a criminal complaint of sexual misconduct. “Sorry, madam, but we are required to presume the accused is innocent, so you better have something more substantial than your own story of what happened.”
That’s not just how it works. Yes, it is up to the police to make a basic assessment of the credibility of the accused. This is part of what police are trained to do. And if the person making the complaint appears credible to those who are skilled and experienced in such matters, it is sufficient to move forward. If the suspect chooses to exercise his constitutional right to remain silent, what are the police supposed to do? Abandon the case?
No, this does not make sense. But it makes sense that Hardin and Graham (and Watson) would like it that way. It provides the clearest path to their insistence that Watson did nothing wrong.
Second, Detective Baker’s testimony has sometimes focused on the difference between consent and coercion. Baker argued that the different realities inherent in the difference in size and stature for Watson and the women he hired on Instagram to provide him with private massages make approval difficult. That any sexual activity that occurred could actually have resulted from an implicit concern about what would happen if the massage therapist rejected Watson’s efforts to switch from massage to sexual encounter.
Third, cases inevitably end up with every woman speaking against Watson because that’s how the massages were organized. This is clearly how Watson wanted these massages to continue. Two people in the room. no body else. As a result, there was never any witness to support the account of any of the participants.
If Watson was really only looking for a massage, his protection shouldn’t come from a non-disclosure agreement provided by the Texas director of security but from a third person who could break the tie if the massage therapist later claimed that something inappropriate had happened. The circumstances which he has arranged inevitably lead to the reduction of cases to the speech of one person against another. And Harden, as part of his effort to prove that all 24 women (soon to be 26 and eventually perhaps more) suggest that the police – and everyone else – should assume they are.
That is why the initial number of accusations became relevant and compelling. If it’s just one person, that’s fine. But when you’re 24, 26, or older, and they all tell the same story of a massage that went in a different direction, Watson’s reliance on talking points about never assaulting, never respecting, and never doing anything wrong becomes hard to accept. Especially when considering Hardin’s claim a couple of weeks ago that there is no crime in having a “happy ending,” or trying.
All of these cases against Watson stem from his alleged efforts to attempt a massage in a sexual activity. All but three refused. The three who apparently claimed that there was no real consent.
It is impossible to ignore the prime numbers. If each of these cases, as Hardin and Graham seem to believe, are unfounded to the point of frivolity and have been instigated by a payday and fame-seeking Pied Piper, then surely there will be cracks in the foundation now. Eighteen of the plaintiffs were on the verge of earning (before fees and expenses) $100,000 per year in the past year. they did not. Common sense says at least one of them would have been after the money she thought she was getting last year, if it was really about getting the money out of Watson.
Hardin and Graham would likely argue that Buzbee carried the plaintiffs with the promise that they would get more later. Again, common sense points out that if this was a really big ploy to target Watson for “extortion” or any other term they might use to describe cases, someone would have fallen out of rank or talked about their role by now. Instead, ranks keep building — and pretenders keep clinging to one another.
If they are not, and if Hardin and Graham want the league, the media, the fans, and ultimately the jury to know, they should gather the evidence in this regard and make it public to those in a position to spread the word. Instead, the only thing that spreads is the initial number of pending cases against Watson.
Either he is the victim of an unprecedented witch hunt against a rich and famous professional athlete, or he is a predator. At this point, there is no middle ground.