HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is accused of sexual assault and harassment in lawsuits filed by 21 women, is being investigated by police after a report was filed regarding the NFL player, officials said Friday.
In a tweet Friday, the Houston Police Department said a complainant had filed a report with the agency about Watson.
“As with any allegation, the Houston Police Department is now conducting an investigation and will not comment further during the investigative process,” the law enforcement agency said.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has called the allegations “meritless” and has questioned the claims made against the NFL player, alleging they were made following a failed attempt to blackmail his client for $30,000.
“We welcome this long overdue development. Now we will learn the identity of at least one accuser. We will fully cooperate with the Houston Police Department,” Hardin said Friday in a statement.
It was not immediately known if the person who filed the report with Houston police is one of the women who has filed suit against Watson. Tony Buzbee, who represents the 21 women, did not immediately return an email seeking comment Friday.
The women, in lawsuits filed in state court in Houston, accuse Watson of exposing himself, touching them with his penis or kissing them against their will while he got a massage. At least one woman has alleged Watson forced her to perform oral sex during a massage in December. All of the women who have sued Watson are either licensed massage therapists or worked in a spa or similar business.
Earlier this week, Hardin offered statements from 18 different women who said they had worked with Watson and he had “never made them feel uncomfortable or demanded anything outside the scope of a professional massage.”
The complaint filed with Houston police comes after Buzbee earlier this week had said he would not provide evidence to Houston police but would “go elsewhere to provide our evidence to investigative authorities” because of concerns about the agency. Buzbee had alleged Houston police would not fairly investigate the cases because of criticism he had made of the recently departed police chief and because Hardin’s son works for the agency.
Hardin called Buzbee’s concerns about Houston police “ludicrous.”
The NFL has said it’s investigating the allegations against Watson.
Watson is one of the league’s top quarterbacks and led the NFL in yards passing last season. He signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension with the Texans last offseason, but he became unhappy with the direction of the team as Houston sunk to 4-12. Watson requested a tradein January.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70