Deshaun Watson’s suspension demonstrates NFL, Roger Goodell ‘don’t care’ about sexual assault, lawyer says


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The lawyer who represented the women who accused Deshaun Watson of sexual assault in two dozen civil lawsuits blasted the NFL after the Cleveland Browns quarterback was suspended for 11 games.

Tony Buzbee took the league and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to task after Watson received the extended discipline Thursday. Watson was also fined $5 million.

“By settling this matter the way he has, Roger Goodell has proven one of two things: either his recent rhetoric was utter baloney, or his bark is much worse than his bite. My belief is that he is nothing more than a paper tiger. The message today to all victims is clear, if you believe you have been sexually assaulted by a powerful person, keep your mouth shut and go away. The NFL has certainly demonstrated that its ownership and the organization don’t care,” Buzbee said in a statement, via the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.

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Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson enters a news conference at the NFL team’s training facility in Berea, Ohio, on March 25, 2022.
(AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

“To all sexual assault survivors, do not allow this recent ‘punishment’ to deter you. Keep speaking up and speaking out. Your voice matters. You are making a difference. We stand with you,” he added.

The suspension came in an agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, and after independent disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson had previously levied a six-game ban on Watson. The league decided to appeal and push for a season-long suspension.

The NFL said Watson must also “undergo a professional evaluation by behavioral experts and will follow their treatment program.”

DESHAUN WATSON SUSPENSION: WHO DO THE BROWNS PLAY WHEN QB RETURNS?

Watson walks off the field during Cleveland Browns training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus in Berea, Ohio, on Aug. 9, 2022.

Watson walks off the field during Cleveland Browns training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus in Berea, Ohio, on Aug. 9, 2022.
(Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Goodell released a statement Thursday on Watson’s suspension.

“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” he said. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension. We are grateful to Judge Robinson and Peter Harvey for their efforts in addressing these matters, which laid the foundation for reaching this conclusion.”

Watson would to eligible to return in Week 13 in a matchup against his former team, the Houston Texans. Jacoby Brissett is expected to the starting quarterback until then.

The accusations against Watson began in March 2021 after he requested a trade from the Texans. He was accused by 24 women in Texas of sexual assault. He settled 23 of the 24 civil lawsuits against him and avoided criminal charges with two grand juries.

Watson listens to questions during a press conference prior to a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus in Berea, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022.

Watson listens to questions during a press conference prior to a joint practice with the Philadelphia Eagles at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus in Berea, Ohio, on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022.
(Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

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One lawsuit remains outstanding. A 25th lawsuit was later dropped. The Texans reportedly settled with 30 women over claims against Watson. The team was accused of “enabling” his behavior.



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