Editor’s Note: This report includes mature content.
CLEVELAND (WJW) – The FOX 8 I-Team has obtained the 16-page report from a former federal judge who conducted the investigation and ruled on the discipline for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.
24 women accused Watson of sexual assault. The NFL interviewed 12 of those women.
The report details the NFL’s allegations against Deshaun Watson. The NFL said Watson violated 3 provisions of its personal conduct policy by engaging in sexual assault, conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person, and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL.
Former Federal Judge Sue L. Robinson did determine that Watson violated all 3 provisions.
Here’s an excerpt from the NFL complaint.
Despite having access to team-provided and approved massage therapists, Mr. Watson sought out private massages and, according to the NFL, “used his status as an NFL player as a pretext to engage in a premeditated pattern of predatory behavior toward multiple women.
Mr. Watson identified himself from the outset of each encounter as a quarterback for the NFL via an Instagram inquiry for a massage. Mr. Watson’s requests were typically ‘urgent,’ wanting to schedule a massage that day. He was not looking for a professional setting and often inquired as to whether the massage would be ‘private.’ Mr. Watson would follow his Instagram contact with texts or calls before each session to make sure that the therapists were comfortable massaging certain areas of his body, particularly his lower back, glutes, abs, and groin area (his ‘focus points’). Mr. Watson requested that the therapists use a towel to cover his private parts rather than the more typically used sheet. Mr. Watson often provided his own towels, which have been variously described as ‘medium/small’ towels or ‘Gatorade’ towels.
When he turned over on his back, it is alleged that Mr. Watson exposed his erect penis and purposefully contacted the therapists’ hands and arms multiple times with his erect penis. One of the therapists alleges that Mr. Watson not only contacted her arm multiple times but that he ejaculated on her arm.”
Robinson wrote, “He insisted on having the therapists focus on areas of his body that not uncommonly triggered erections. And he engaged in this pattern of conduct multiple times. I find this sufficient circumstantial evidence to support the NFL’s contention not only that contact occurred, but that Mr. Watson was aware that contact probably would occur, and that Mr. Watson had a sexual purpose – not just a therapeutic purpose – in making these arrangements with these particular therapists.
Given that none of these therapists accepted Mr. Watson’s invitations to engage in further therapy sessions, I find the evidence sufficient to demonstrate that Mr. Watson knew, or should have known, that any contact between his penis and these therapists was unwanted. I, therefore, find that the NFL has carried its burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four therapists identified in the Report.”
She continued, “I accept the fact that a work environment with sexualized conduct is not a safe environment, and I accept as credible the testimony of these therapists that they felt unsafe and suffered emotional distress as a result of their massage sessions with Mr. Watson.”
“It is apparent that Mr. Watson acted with a reckless disregard for the consequences of his actions by exposing himself (and the NFL) to such public scrutiny and speculation. Mr. Watson’s predatory conduct cast ‘a negative light’ on the League and its players.”
Robinson’s reason for a 6-game suspension is also outlined in the report. While the NFL had asked for a full season’s suspension, the former judge explained that there was simply no precedent based on the League’s own decisions regarding players in the past.
“Just as the NFL responded to violent conduct after a public outcry, so it seems the NFL is responding to yet another public outcry about Mr. Watson’s conduct.”
The report says violent conduct requires a minimum 6-game suspension, however, Watson’s conduct doesn’t fall into that category.
“Prior cases involving non-violent sexual assault have resulted in discipline far less severe than what the NFL proposes here, with the most severe penalty being a 3-game suspension for a player who had been previously warned about his conduct,” Robinson wrote.
“I note that there are aggravating factors applicable to Mr. Watson, that is, his lack of expressed remorse and his tardy notice to the NFL of the first-filed lawsuit.”
“Although I have found Mr. Watson to have violated the Policy, I have done so using the NFL’s post-hoc definitions of the prohibited conduct at issue.”
“I find the most appropriate landing place to be as follows:
• Mr. Watson is hereby suspended for six (6) regular-season games without pay. Although this is the most significant punishment ever imposed on an NFL player for allegations of non-violent sexual conduct, Mr. Watson’s pattern of conduct is more egregious than any before reviewed by the NFL.
• Recognizing that the only discipline mentioned in the CBA is a fine or suspension, I nevertheless, believe it appropriate for Mr. Watson to limit his massage therapy to Club-directed sessions and Club-approved massage therapists for the duration of his career, and so impose this mandate as a condition to his reinstatement.
• Mr. Watson is to have no adverse involvement with law enforcement and must not commit any additional violations of the Policy.”
Both sides have 3 days to appeal the ruling.