HOUSTON (AP) – Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who faces 21 lawsuits from women for assault and sexual harassment, is under investigation by police over a complaint filed against him, authorities said Friday.
The Houston Police Department said in a tweet that a complainant filed a complaint against the NFL player with the agency.
“As with any complaint, the Houston Police Department conducts an investigation and will not comment further during the investigation process,” said the police agency.
The quarterback’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the allegations “are without merit” and questioned the claims against the player because, he said, they follow a failed attempt to blackmail him with the payment of $ 30,000.
“We welcome this long overdue event. Now we will know the identity of at least one of the accusers. We will fully cooperate with the Houston Police Department, ”Hardin said in a statement Friday.
It was not currently known if the person who filed the complaint with Houston police is one of the women who sued Watson. Tony Buzbee, who represents the 21 women, had not yet responded to an email seeking comment on the matter.
The women, in lawsuits filed in state court in Houston, accuse Watson of exposing their private parts, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will when they massaged him. At least one of the women claims that Watson forced her to perform oral sex on him during a massage session in December. All of the women who have sued Watson are licensed massage therapists or worked in spas or similar establishments.
Earlier in the week, Hardin presented statements from 18 different women who claim to have worked with Watson and added that the player “never made them feel uncomfortable or demanded anything beyond a professional massage.”
The complaint filed with the Houston police followed the announcement by Buzbee, who said this week that he would not turn over evidence to the Houston police but would “go to other instances to turn over our evidence to investigating authorities” because he mistrusts the agency.
Buzbbee had said Houston police would not impartially investigate the cases because of criticism he leveled at the recently departed police chief and because Hardin’s son works for the agency.
Hardin called Buzbee’s concerns about the Houston police “ridiculous.”
The NFL has claimed that it is investigating the allegations against the player.
Watson is one of the top quarterbacks in the league. During the previous season he was the leader in passing yards in the NFL. He signed a four-year, $ 156 million contract extension with the Texans during the break, but expressed disagreement with the team’s leadership due to Houston’s 4-12 record.
Watson had requested his transfer to another outfit in January.