Deshaun Watson said he will not settle civil claims during the Cleveland Browns’ inaugural press conference to “clear his name.”

CLEVELAND, Ohio (KTRK) – Just a day after a Brazoria County grand jury denied indicting Deshaun Watson in a tenth count related to allegations of sexual misconduct, the former Texan quarterback spoke at his inaugural press conference with his new team, the Cleveland Brown. But the conversation quickly diverted from football.

Watson was asked specifically about the allegations by a reporter, specifically whether he planned to work with women’s groups and the community.

“I need to get that trust back, to be honest. I need to get that trust back in the community,” Watson began. “I don’t want to just pop out to appear like I’m clearing my name.”

Describing himself as a “servant leader,” Watson said he was before the allegations that led to lawsuits from 22 women.

In recent weeks, a Harris County jury has not indicted Watson in all nine Houston-area cases. Brazoria County followed Thursday in a 10th case.

During the press conference to introduce Watson as the Browns’ new quarterback after a blockbuster deal worth $230 million, the 26-year-old was also asked if he would go for counseling. Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin says the Browns were aware of the tenth case before the trade deal.

The women have alleged in their lawsuits that Watson exposed himself, touched her with his penis, or kissed her against her will during massage appointments. One woman claimed Watson forced her to perform oral sex.

“It’s hard for me to say the advice part because I don’t have a problem. I do not have a problem. I said that from the start,” Watson said, adding that he was willing to talk to people to make sure he didn’t find himself in the situation again, but doubled down that he had no problem.

“Like I said, I never attacked anyone, never disrespected anyone, I was always respectful. That’s what I’ve always stood for and that’s me as a person,” he continued.

The allegations are based on massages that the quarterback received from 2020. The first lawsuit was filed last March. A Houston police investigation began in April 2021 after a criminal complaint was filed.

Watson was also asked about the number of massage therapists he has used and how he has contacted them, which was via social media.

“I can’t go into too much detail because it’s an ongoing investigation, but I can say that social media these days, especially in my age group, is a big part of the business that’s in there, so that’s a factor it,” said Watson. “Hopefully I’ll be able to speak freely about this once it’s settled.”

It was also revealed during the press conference that the Browns leadership had not contacted any of the 22 women who had filed lawsuits against Watson, stating that it would have been seen as interfering with ongoing litigation.

Watson has said he has no intention of settling the civil claims.

“My intention is to clear my name as much as possible and that’s what I’m focused on,” he said.

The Browns said they hired investigators to get a “complete view” of the investigation.

“We felt good about Deshaun as individuals,” said Brown’s general manager Andrew Berry.

Although Watson has not been criminally charged, the NFL has its own personal code of conduct and could suspend him.

If he’s suspended without pay, Watson won’t have to forfeit that much money because the Browns are structuring his contract at a base salary of $1.035 million — the league’s minimum salary for a player of his tenure — for next season to have. If he gets banned, Watson will lose $57,500 for every game he misses.

Watson’s $230 million contract is fully guaranteed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Deshaun Watson said he will not settle civil claims during the Cleveland Browns’ inaugural press conference to “clear his name.”

Dais Johnston

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