HOUSTON — A Texas grand jury on Friday declined to indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson after a police investigation sparked by lawsuits filed by 22 women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment.
The grand jury began hearing testimony on Friday to decide whether criminal charges would be filed against Watson, 26, KHOU-TV reported. The announcement came nearly a year after the first civil lawsuit was filed against Watson, ESPN reported.
The 12-member grand jury heard evidence for more than six hours from the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, The New York Times reported.
“I know we’re far from being done,” Watson said Friday afternoon. “Today is definitely a big day.”
The grand jury returned nine no bills on the nine criminal complaints presented to it, ending the proceedings, prosecutor Johna Stalling told reporters. Prosecutors did not present a 10th criminal complaint.
“We respect the grand jury’s decision,” Johna Stallings, the division chief of the adult sex crimes and human trafficking unit at the district attorney’s office, told reporters. “We will conclude the criminal proceedings in Harris County.”
The grand jury process does not require a unanimous vote, according to ESPN.
“After a Harris County grand jury was presented all the evidence and had the opportunity to hear from all witnesses, grand jurors declined to indict Deshaun Watson,” Dane Schiller, a spokesperson for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, told reporters. “Grand jury proceedings are secret by law, so no information related to their inquiry may be disclosed.”
The criminal complaints filed against Watson included exposing himself and three claims of sexual assault, according to the Times. Eight women who filed complaints with Houston police appeared before the grand jury, The Associated Press reported. Two other women, who did not sue Watson, also filed police complaints.
Watson and his lawyers have denied the accusations. His lawyers have said “some sexual activity” happened, but added that the quarterback never coerced anyone.
Earlier Friday, Watson sat for depositions in two of the lawsuits against him, KHOU reported. He entered and exited unseen from the office of his attorney, Rusty Hardin.
Tony Buzbee, a lawyer for the women who filed the lawsuits, said that Watson cited his Fifth Amendment right and declined to answer questions during the two depositions, the Times reported. Each deposition lasted about 90 minutes, and Buzbee told reporters that Watson cited the Fifth for at least 150 questions.
The civil case against Watson will continue, according to the AP.
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