A grand jury will hear evidence in the case involving Deshaun Watson on Friday, the same day the Houston Texans quarterback will also face questions for the first time in at least one of the pending civil lawsuits against him.
Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, confirmed to ESPN the coincidence of civil and criminal proceedings, adding that he will instruct Watson to assert his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself during his testimony in Friday’s civil case, as it could be criminally charged that same day.
“I’m not going to let him answer anybody’s questions before that grand jury makes their decision,” Hardin told ESPN Tuesday night. “There is no lawyer in the country that would allow it.”
The New York Times first reported Tuesday that several women, who have filed multiple criminal complaints against Watson, were subpoenaed to appear before a grand jury on Friday.
The grand jury process does not require a unanimous vote. If nine of the 12 members return what is known as a “true bill” under Texas law, Harris County, Texas District Attorney Kim Ogg could choose to proceed with a criminal case against Watson. Hardin said.
The potential criminal charges Watson faces include indecent assault, battery and stalking, all misdemeanors. He could also be charged with more serious second-degree sexual assault crimes in Texas, punishable by two to 20 years in prison.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on the case.
The 22 civil cases filed against Watson accuse him of a range of actions during massage dates, from touching women with his genitals to forcing them to have oral sex.
Although a decision on the criminal charges could be made as early as Friday, Watson will face several days of depositions in the 22 pending civil cases, as each of the plaintiffs in those cases can challenge him for up to two hours, Hardin said.
“Once the grand jury process concludes, we intend for (Deshaun) to begin answering questions in depositions,” Hardin added.
Despite his legal problems, Watson, who did not play in the 2021 season but remained on the Texans’ active roster, is still the subject of trade rumors in the NFL.
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Grand jury to hear evidence in Watson case