Deshaun Watson Still Faces Legal Trouble After Grand Jury Doesn't Indict

After a grand jury in Texas declined to issue an indictment for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson Friday, the criminal portion of Watson's legal battle could be over. But the civil case that nearly two dozen women have brought against the NFL star for sexual assault is still ongoing.

A grand jury heard evidence from the police investigation into the claims of nine of the 22 women who have accused Watson of sexual assault through the civil suit or a criminal complaint and declined to indict Watson. The women had accused Watson of varying degrees of sexual assault or misconduct last year, alleging that he hired them largely through Instagram for their services as a massage therapist.

Several women who have publicly described their encounters with Watson said they often started as a normal massage, but at some point, Watson would allegedly remove his towel and expose his penis. He then allegedly touched the women without their consent and many said they felt pressured to engage in sexual acts with him.

Watson's attorneys have maintained that while sexual acts may have taken place during some massages Watson paid the women for, he has denied coercing or pressuring any of them to participate in the acts.

"When you stand on the TRUTH, the LORD will FREE you!" Watson said in a Friday afternoon tweet, one of his first public comments on the case since initially responding to the civil lawsuit being filed in March 2021.

On Friday, Watson completed the first session of depositions related to the civil lawsuit brought against him. His lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said earlier this week that he was advising Watson to plead his Fifth Amendment rights while the criminal investigation was pending.

"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 Friday. "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."

Deshaun Watson Grand Jury No Indictment
Deshaun Watson was not indicted by a grand jury after being accused of sexual assault by 22 women. Above, Watson walks off the field following the Texans' 22-19 win against the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card Playoff game at NRG Stadium on January 4, 2020, in Houston, Texas. Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Watson had requested a trade from the Texans prior to the accusations being made public, which led to him already being distanced from the team—a trend that continued through the entire 2021 season. Watson did not play in a single game while the criminal complaints were investigated.

After the grand jury's decision, several prominent NFL reporters tweeted that teams across the NFL could have a new interest in Watson now that the criminal proceedings are resolved.

"Deshaun Watson has a no-trade clause and he'll want to talk to any interested teams willing to do a deal with the #Texans. Interest will come quickly, but Watson's decision may take a few days," Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network tweeted.

"Trade market for Deshaun Watson now is expected to ramp up, quickly. Houston will be opening to moving him and multiple teams are expected to be interested, per league sources," ESPN's Adam Schefter wrote on Twitter.

Many of the 22 women accusing Watson have already been deposed in the civil suit, but no trial date has been set at this time.

Specialists from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) sexual assault hotline are available 24/7 via phone (1 (800) 656-4673) and online chat. Additional support from the group is also accessible via the mobile app.

Update 03/11/22, 5:58 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with additional information.