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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson settled three of the four remaining civil lawsuits filed against him before an independent arbitrator made a ruling on whether he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who is representing the women, informed ESPN’s John Barr of the settlements. Buzbee plans to release a formal statement to the media later Monday.
Sue L. Robinson, a former U.S. district judge, ruled Monday that Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and suspended him for six games. She served as an independent arbitrator at the behest of the NFL and NFLPA. The players association released a statement late Sunday saying it will not appeal Robinson’s ruling.
The NFL has three days to appeal the ruling. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell could increase the punishment and then act as the sole arbitrator of the case. The league has not indicated whether it plans to move forward with an appeal.
Ashley Solis, who was the first woman to sue Watson and go public with her allegations, is among the women who settled. Solis and Kyla Hayes gave their accounts of Watson’s actions in May during an appearance on Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. According to Solis, Watson repeatedly attempted to put his penis in her hand and then threatened her career after she ended the massage.
“He just said, ‘I know you have a career to protect.’ And ‘I know you don’t want anyone messing with it just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.’ To me, that’s when I got really scared,” Solis said.
Watson acknowledged Solis was crying at the end of their encounter when testifying under oath in May. He also admitted to sending a text message apologizing to Solis, though he maintained no wrongdoing.
“Sorry about you feeling uncomfortable,” the text message read. “Never were the intentions. Lmk if you want to work in the future. My apologies.”
A total of 25 women filed lawsuits against Watson, accusing acts ranging from sexual assault to harassment. Only one of those lawsuits now remains open. Watson settled 23 cases and one woman dropped her suit, citing privacy concerns.
Two different grand juries found insufficient evidence to charge Watson with a crime.