(Warning: This story contains allegations of sexual misconduct.)
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson settled with 20 of the 24 women who filed civil lawsuits against him, attorney Tony Buzbee said Tuesday.
“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled,” Buzbee said in a statement. “We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”
Buzbee pointed out in his statement that Ashley Solis, the first woman to publicly accuse Watson, is one of the four women who has not settled with the Browns quarterback.
"... Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story. Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue. I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations."
This signals an important marker in a story that began on March 16, 2021, when one massage therapist accused Watson of sexual misconduct during sessions while he was still a member of the Houston Texans. Over the course of the next year, 23 more women filed civil sexual misconduct lawsuits against Watson. In the middle of it all, the Browns traded for Watson and signed him to a five-year, $230 million deal that was fully guaranteed.
Watson never faced criminal charges after two Texas grand juries declined to indict him earlier this year and he maintained his innocence since the allegations first surfaced.
In comments to reporters last week during Browns minicamp, Watson said he looked forward to clearing his name in civil court and maintained his innocence.
"I never harassed anyone. I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything," Watson said.
According to ESPN's Jake Trotter, Watson was asked at the minicamp if he was open to settling the lawsuits. His response, per ESPN:
"Like I said, I just want to clear my name and be able to let the facts and the legal procedures continue to play out. Right now, this is all I am doing is wanting to clear my name and be able to let all of the facts come out in the court of law and be able to focus on that."
What comes next for Watson
Despite the settlements, this is not the end of the Watson saga. There are four civil lawsuits still pending against him. And Watson still faces a possible suspension from the league for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy even if he avoids facing any accusers in court.
The NFLPA is reportedly bracing for a significant suspension from the league but reportedly plans to defend Watson by going after three NFL team owners who didn't face much punishment for off-field transgressions.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement Tuesday that Watson's settlement news "has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process."