HOUSTON (WJW) – Attorneys on both sides of the Deshaun Watson case give different views on the deposition testimony of a Houston police detective who stated under oath she felt the Browns quarterback should have been criminally charged.
“We were dumbfounded. She said the defendant always has to prove his innocence,” said Attorney Rusty Hardin, the lead counsel for Watson.
Attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents 24 women accusing Watson of sexual misconduct during massages, tells the I-Team he strongly disagrees with Hardin’s statement. He says the detective stated under oath “over and over“ that she felt the quarterback committed “more than 10 sexual crimes.”
“She said, her words, she believed based on her knowledge, skill, training and experience that Deshaun Watson committed 10 crimes,” Buzbee told the I-Team Thursday.
On Tuesday, Houston Police Detective Kamesha Baker, with the special victim’s division of the Houston Police Department, was deposed by Buzbee and Hardin.
“Mr. Buzbee’s recent comments about a Houston police officer’s saying she thought that Deshaun Watson should have been charged with these offenses, just once again show how totally tone deaf he is and how reckless he is about the way he conducts his business,” Hardin said. “He took a deposition of one of the chief investigators of the Houston Police Department. For about two hours, because he knew what she was going to say, he got all kinds of sound bites he will keep releasing to the public about her view and why she believed Mr. Watson was guilty and should have been charged. What Mr. Buzbee didn’t do was stay around for the other side. He wasn’t there when I started asking questions.”
Buzbee said he had to leave the deposition, but three attorneys from his firm remained. Buzbee said he also reviewed the transcript when he received it Thursday.
“In another part she said, volunteered on her own, that when power and influence are in the room, consent cannot be,” Hardin said. “I can just tell you that if there is a jury trial in this case, the public will be horrified to realize Deshaun Watson was never going to get a fair hearing from that police officer,” Hardin said.
He noted that the detective also stated she closed her investigation in September, before any of the accusers were deposed.
However, Buzbee noted the detective said she asked for information and evidence from Watson’s team that she never received.
“She went through each complainant and the crimes she believes that Deshaun Watson committed and her entire command staff believe had been committed and were presented to the DA,” Buzbee said.
The detective also told the attorneys during the deposition that she did testify in front of a grand jury in Brazoria County. That grand jury declined to indict Watson.
The grand jury in Harris County also declined to indict Watson. The detective did not testify at the Harris County grand jury.
Buzbee told the I-Team that Watson’s team was “quite cozy “ with the Harris County District Attorney’s office.
We reached out to the Harris County District Attorney’s office to discuss the matter but have not yet heard back.
Buzbee has posted on his social media accounts a statement about Hardin’s interaction with an assistant district attorney in Harris County.
“Just so there is no confusion: I personally contacted the Harris County DA’s office one time on behalf of the victims to make available to her my clients and any evidence I had collected. My team also did so. They wouldn’t even talk to us,” Buzbee’s statement reads. “I had no idea that the assistant district attorney was regularly corresponding with Deshaun Watson’s lawyer by email and text; I didn’t know that the assistant district attorney actually went to Hardin’s office to discuss the cases; I didn’t know that Watson’s lawyer provided a PowerPoint that was to be used before the grand jury.”
Hardin said he contacted the district attorney’s office because he was representing his client.
“Every attorney who believes his client is not guilty has the opportunity to present evidence pre-indictment- to the grand jury,” Hardin said.
Hardin said it was the grand jurors in both counties that heard all the testimony on the cases and chose not to indict Watson.
“I don’t know what was presented to the grand jury,” Hardin said.
Sources tell the I-Team that Watson received massages from about 60 women in a three-year period.
Twenty-four of the women have filed civil lawsuits. Eighteen of the women have spoken out on Watson’s behalf saying he never acted inappropriately with them.
Exclusive video released to the I-Team shows depositions of two of the 24 women suing Watson for sexual misconduct.
The two women, Ashley Solis and Lauren Baxley, both alleged sexual misconduct by Watson when they gave him massages. Solis even testified that she cried at the end of the massage session and that Watson texted her an apology.
The depositions show that both women testified Watson did not make threats toward them. Solis said she felt assaulted when she says Watson moved his private part on to her hand.
Baxley testified that Watson did not want to stay covered during the massage.
“Did he ever say any threats to you?” Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, asked Baxley.
“He didn’t – his very presence as a naked man on my table was a threat to me, but he did not give any verbal threats,” Baxley said in the deposition.
Baxley also said that Watson told her to grab his private parts, if they get in the way.
“He is a threat to me,” Baxley said. “He is a threat to any woman. He’s a threat to all massage therapists.”
Baxley’s counselor was also deposed. During the deposition, Watson’s attorney asked the counselor if she was aware that Baxley communicated with Watson several times, after the first massage, where she alleges sexual misconduct.
“Did you know Ms. Baxley responded to Mr. Watson 19 times after the day of the massage with him?” the attorney asked. “Over text message. She communicated with him 19 times.”
The counselor, Mary Magdalene Smith, testified she was not aware that Baxley continued to communicate with Watson.
“Well, it certainly doesn’t sound like trauma,” Smith said. “If she’s able to talk to him and is willing to do another massage.”
Baxley and Solis, along with eight of the other women, filed criminal complaints against Watson.
Solis testified in front of the Harris County grand jury prior to the vote to not indict him.
Buzbee said other accusers were not able to testify in front of the grand jury.
He has also stated that during the time Watson was with the Texans, the team gave him NDA’s, non-disclosure agreements, to give to the massage therapists to sign.
Hardin stated that Watson got the NDA after one woman posted his private cell phone and other information on social media accounts. That woman is one of the 24 who filed a lawsuit against Watson.
Watson has continued to deny all of the allegations and has said he wants to clear his name.
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