Deshaun Watson has maintained his innocence and strongly denied sexual misconduct despite allegations made by 22 women against the Cleveland Browns’ new starting quarterback.
Dressed in a dark pinstripe suit and orange tie during his introductory press conference on Friday, Watson showed little emotion while claiming he had done nothing illegal.
“I’ve never assaulted, disrespected or harassed a woman in my life,” Watson said, flanked on stage by Browns general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski. “That’s not how I was raised. I never did those things that people claim.”
Berry defended the team’s controversial decision to trade for Watson, who was accused by two dozen massage therapists of various sexual activities during private sessions. He always claimed that all sex was consensual.
“As an organization, we know this transaction has been very difficult for many people, especially women in our community,” Berry said. “We realize this has triggered a range of emotions. And that, along with the nature of the allegations, has weighed heavily on all of us.
“It was because of the weight of the early reaction and the nature of the allegations that really pushed us to do as much work as possible internally and externally to understand the cases and who Deshaun was as a person.
“We have faith and trust in Deshaun as a person.”
Watson rejected needing advice because he feels he has been falsely accused.
Browns signs Watson to record deal
“I don’t have a problem,” he said. “I do not have any problems.”
Although Watson was not indicted by two grand juries in Texas on criminal charges, he still faces civil lawsuits. He has no intention of settling the lawsuits and that his only goal “is to clear my name”.
Berry described the Browns’ investigation as “a five-month odyssey” that allowed the team to feel comfortable enough with Watson as a person to trade for him – and by extension make him the face. of their franchise.
The Browns lured Watson to Cleveland with a record, fully guaranteed, US$230 million contract that includes a base salary of $1 million in the first season in the event he is suspended by the NFL.
The league is conducting an ongoing investigation into his behavior and whether he breached the personal conduct policy.
Watson said the Browns’ contract had nothing to do with him giving up his no-trade clause to come to Cleveland.
The Browns traded three first-round picks and six overall picks to Houston for Watson.
On Thursday, a second Texas grand jury decided not to indict Watson on one of the first criminal charges of sexual misconduct. Watson being cleared by another grand jury had sparked his pursuit by the Browns and several other teams hoping to sign the three-time Pro Bowler.