A Houston grand jury declined Friday (March 11) to indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson after a police investigation sparked by civil lawsuits filed by 22 women who’ve accused him of harassment and sexual assault.
The Harris County grand jury returned nine no bills on the nine criminal complaints presented. With the decision, the criminal proceedings in the county regarding Watson have concluded, per prosecutor Johna Stallings.
“Today we presented nine criminal complaints for consideration by the grand jury. Beginning at 9 o’clock this morning, we presented evidence for over six hours for the grand jury to consider, as well as having witnesses available for those persons to testify in front of the grand jury,” Stallings, division chief of adult sex crimes and trafficking at the Harris County District attorney’s office said. “And the grand jury considered all of that evidence and returned nine no bills against Deshaun Watson involving these nine criminal complaints. We respect the grand jury’s decision and … conclude the criminal proceedings in Harris County.”
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, says he and his client are “delighted” by the decision.
“We are delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did,” Hardin said in a statement. “Deshaun Watson did not commit any crimes and is not guilty of any offenses. Now that the criminal investigations have been completed, we are happy to move forward with the civil case depositions. We will vigorously defend those cases with every ounce we have.”
Eight women who sued Watson filed criminal complaints against him with the Houston Police Department and appeared before the grand jury. Two other women, who chose not to sue Watson, also filed complaints with HPD. The FBI also been reviewed the allegations against Watson, who didn’t play in 2021 due to the legal matter and previously requested a trade from the organization.
He was deemed a healthy scratch for all 17 games and was paid his full base salary of $10.54 million.
In his first public comments on the matter, Watson says he will rebuild his name and image.
“It’s definitely a very emotional moment for me. I know we’re far from being done of handling what we need to handle on the legal side but today is definitely a big day,” he told reporters. “I thank my lord and savior Jesus Christ for letting the truth be heard. And I thank everyone that was a part of this for seeing and hearing both sides. That’s what my point and my team wanted to do, is have a fair slate of us telling our side of the story and letting the conclusion come to what happened today, and that’s what the grand jury decided on.
“I’m just going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community. And on the legal side handle what we need to handle. But also ready to get on the field, and prep for that.”