HOUSTON -- Deshaun Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, filed motions Thursday for emergency hearings on all the civil lawsuits against Watson, asking a judge to rule that lawyer Tony Buzbee has to identify all the women who filed.
Two motions were granted by the Harris County District Court, with hearings scheduled for Friday at 8:45 a.m. ET and 12 p.m. ET. At least 12 cases are included in the 12 p.m. hearing.
Of the 22 civil lawsuits filed against Watson alleging inappropriate behavior and sexual assault, only two women have been publicly identified. The first motion filed Thursday pertained to lawsuit 2021-15937, which was filed March 18. Because these lawsuits were filed individually, Hardin needed to file a motion for each of the lawsuits filed.
Watson has denied the allegations in the lawsuits.
"When we asked Mr. Buzbee to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion," Hardin said in a statement. "Today we filed that motion. As discussed in our filing, Mr. Buzbee's use of anonymous lawsuits violates Texas law and the basic concept of fairness.
"While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword. While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court."
In the motion, Hardin wrote that "because Plaintiff's counsel filed the actions anonymously, Mr. Watson's counsel can only speculate about Plaintiff's identity."
"Mr. Watson's counsel cannot in good conscience publicly respond to the specific allegations being made because any response would be based on dangerous speculation about the identity of the accusers," Hardin said in the motion. "It is easy to imagine the harm that would be caused if Ms. Doe was mistakenly identified.
"The only way to allow Mr. Watson to properly defend himself is for the Court to follow the law by requiring Ms. Doe to identify herself in her civil lawsuit."
The motion for the emergency hearing is because Watson's answer to the lawsuit is due on April 19, and "due to plaintiff's counsel's repeated refusals to identify for Mr. Watson's counsel the real name of Ms. Doe, Mr. Watson's counsel cannot fully evaluate or plead his defenses to her claims."
In a statement Tuesday, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy called the allegations against Watson "deeply disturbing," noting, "we take these issues very seriously."
McCarthy said that the league launched an investigation under its personal conduct policy last month after the first allegations and that the NFL is "continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter."