Deshaun Watson's attorney says 'happy ending' after massage is not illegal, walks back comment as Browns' QB faces potential 24th suit

Deshaun Watson's attorney says 'happy ending' after massage is not illegal, walks back comment as Browns' QB faces potential 24th suit

Deshaun Watson faces 23 civil lawsuits alleging various instances of sexual misconduct and assault from massage therapists, and continues to battle in the court of public opinion. His attorney might have done some damage to his case in the latter.

On Friday, Rusty Hardin, Watson’s lawyer, told Sean Pendergast and Seth Payne on SportsRadio 610 that “occasionally” during a massage, “there was a happy ending,” and said that if it ever happened, it is not illegal.

“I do want to point out if it has happened, it’s not a crime, OK, unless you are paying somebody extra or so to give you some type of sexual activity, it’s not a crime,” Hardin said. “Doing something or saying something or being a way that makes you uncomfortable is not a crime. And so we’ve got two grand juries find that and nobody seems to want to listen.”

MORE: Everything you need to know about the Deshaun Watson legal situation

Unsurprisingly, it did not take Hardin long to walk back those comments. He issued a statement later on Friday saying that Watson “did nothing wrong” and that the Browns quarterback has said he had consensual sexual activity with three of the plaintiffs after massages, according to Pro Football Talk. He said Watson swore under oath he did not force any of the women accusing him of sexual misconduct or assault to have sexual contact with him.

In his statement, Hardin reiterated that it is not illegal for someone to have consensual sex with a massage therapist after a massage and said he was not describing Watson’s case, but rather “using the term hypothetically.”

“I have reiterated to others it’s not OK to do anything that a woman does not agree to do,” Hardin said. “These women have alleged assault in their pleadings. I was speaking in a hypothetical situation. If there is a consensual sexual encounter after a massage, that is not a crime nor the basis of a civil lawsuit. I was not talking about what Deshaun did or did not do or expected or did not expect.”

MORE: Browns defend decision to acquire Watson from Texans

Tony Buzbee, attorney for the plaintiffs in the 23 civil lawsuits against Watson, told ESPN’s John Barr he believes Hardin cost his client the case and said he will use that comment to contend what Watson’s expectations are when he has a massage.

“I think it speaks volumes to how he, his team and his client think about the massage industry,” Buzbee told Barr. “If you’re in the massage industry, according to Rusty Hardin, that’s to be expected. And apparently, that’s what his client expected. I promise you that’s not what any of these women expected.”

Civil lawsuits are filed when the plaintiff believes someone committed a harmful act — even if it is not a crime — against them that warrants compensation for the plaintiff.

MORE: Deshaun Watson accusers condemn Browns QB, contract in ‘Real Sports’ interview

The comments by Hardin also came the same day Buzbee told Cleveland.com that a 24th lawsuit will be filed against Watson on Monday. It is the second lawsuit in a week filed against Watson after the first 22 civil lawsuits had been filed in March and April of 2021.

Two grand juries have declined to indict Watson on any criminal charges, but Watson is still embroiled in what will be a lengthy legal process. Once the 24th lawsuit is filed, Watson will have at least 24 trials (assuming none of the suits are dropped and no additional ones are filed). Cleveland.com previously reported that none of the 22 lawsuits would go to trial until between Aug. 1, 2022 and March 1, 2023, ensuring these cases will linger throughout the 2022 season.

The NFL has yet to announce any discipline for Watson as it continues to investigate the allegations. Commissioner Roger Goodell said on May 24 the league is “nearing the end of the investigation,” per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.