Grand Jury Decides Against Deshaun Watson Criminal Charges for Alleged Sexual Assault

March 18, 2022
Grand Jury Decides Against Deshaun Watson Criminal Charges for Alleged Sexual Assault

Civil Lawsuits of Sexual Assault are Possible Despite No Criminal Prosecution

The controversy surrounding 26-year-old professional football player, Deshaun Watson, has recently progressed with a decision reached by a Houston, Texas Grand Jury. The NFL quarterback, Deshaun Watson, has been accused by numerous women of sexual misconduct ranging from sexual harassment to sexual assault but now does not seem to have to worry about criminal repercussions due to these allegations.  A 12-person Harris County grand jury in Texas has decided not to seek criminal charges against Watson after hearing the testimonies and evidence presented by various women accusing him of sexual misconduct.  So far, this seems to be the end of any criminal prosecution of Deshaun Watson for alleged sexual misconduct but this does not mean that he will not be facing any consequences. 

Deshaun Watson Sexual Assault Allegations

The first accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against Deshaun Watson surfaced in March 2021. Those claiming to have been subjected to sexual misconduct at the hands of Watson are all women and most incidents of this sexual misconduct occurred in the context of Watson receiving a massage.  Watson stands accused of engaging in a number of inappropriate behaviors when seeking or receiving a massage from women during massage appointments. The various claims levied against Watson allege that he forced two women to perform oral sex, groped four women, ejaculated on three women and in the presence of three others, nonconsensually kissed a woman, and nonconsensually touched women with his genitals during massages. 

Deshaun Watson Claims He Acted With Consent

Deshaun Watson actually does not deny that all of this behavior did take place. At a news conference on April 9, Watson's defense lawyer, Rusty Hardin, acknowledged that Watson did engage in some of the alleged acts with some of his accusers but that this behavior was undertaken consensually.

Civil Lawsuits Against Deshawn Watson

While Deshawn Watson has managed to avoid any criminal prosecution of the many allegations of sexual misconduct many women have accused him of, he still has to face many civil lawsuits. There are currently 22 different civil lawsuits that are filed against Deshaun Watson over his alleged sexual misconduct. There potentially could be more filed since some who have accused him of sexual misconduct have yet to take legal action for various reasons. 

Criminal Prosecution Versus Civil Lawsuits Over Sexual Assault

Criminal prosecution aims to punish those that commit criminal offenses as defined by the laws of the government but civil law is a dispute between individuals or organizations that seek compensation for the damages claimed by the wronged party.  Due to these differences in goals, criminal and civil law can differ greatly in terms of process, laws, lawyers, and consequences.  When it comes to sexual abuse, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct, criminal prosecution can be pursued because of this behavior but so can a civil lawsuit. More importantly, a civil lawsuit can be filed in these circumstances even if there is no criminal prosecution. While it is beneficial to have both, they do not require one or the other to proceed. 

The Burden of Proof in Civil Law Versus Criminal Law

Like many aspects of civil law, the burden of proof is quite different when compared to criminal law. Most people are familiar with the need to prove that a crime was committed beyond all reasonable doubt in a criminal case.  With civil law, the burden of proof is significantly lower. You only need to prove that something occurred based on a preponderance of evidence. This is an evidentiary standard where, put simply, one must prove that it is more likely that something happened than not. So even if someone may lack enough evidence to prove that something like sexual assault occurred beyond all reasonable doubt, they may be able to prove it based on a preponderance of evidence.  

Damages and a Sexual Assault Lawsuit

Survivors of sexual abuse, assault, or misconduct have to deal with the long-term damage these kinds of traumatic acts can inflict. Sexual crimes have a penchant for causing severe emotional and mental fallout that can affect a person's ability to work, their relationships, as well as their overall quality of life.  These damages are the basis on which a civil lawsuit is filed. Seeking restitution for sexual misconduct so that one can heal and pick up the pieces is seldom simple. You need to be able to properly quantify the damages you have suffered.  Medical bills, lost wages, and lost earning potential have set dollar values that are easy to calculate but pain and suffering or loss of enjoyment of life requires an experienced sexual abuse attorney's assistance to properly estimate the value. 

How a Sexual Assault Lawyer Can Help You

Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer is integral if you want to give your case a realistic chance at getting you meaningful restitution. It is important to remember that not all personal injuries lawyers are capable of handling a sexual assault lawsuit. You should seek a lawyer with experience in successfully handling cases as similar to yours as possible.  A good sexual assault lawyer will be able to not only assist you in court but support you in your pursuit of compensation for sexual abuse-related damages. Some of the 
  • Help you determine and calculate your damages 
  • Help you file the lawsuit within the statute of limitations
  • Negotiate settlements
  • Communicate with the defendant's lawyers
  • Contact potential witnesses
  • Investigate your case to gather evidence
  • Help you gather essential documents and file paperwork
  • Identify parties other than your assailant that may be liable like hotels or employers

Contact Dolman Law Group For Help With Your Sexual Assault Lawsuit

 If you or a loved one have suffered sexual abuse and are considering taking legal action against the responsible parties then do not hesitate to contact Dolman Law Group about your case. Our lawyers are ready to hear out the details of your case and provide you with a free consultation to determine your options for what your next best course of action is.  Dolman Law Group is a personal injury law firm that specializes in helping those harmed by sexual crimes get their life back on track. Our lawyers have experience dealing with everything from sex trafficking to Catholic clergy sexual abuse of childrenhttps://www.dolmanlaw.com/blog/child-sexual-abuse-risks/. We know just how delicate these cases can be and make working closely with our clients a priority so we can get a proper understanding of what their needs are and what we can do as sexual abuse lawyers to help.  To contact Dolman Law Group about setting up a consultation regarding a potential sex abuse lawsuit you can either call our offices at (727)451-6900 or fill out a contact form online.

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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