Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will not face criminal charges in connection with nine allegations of sexual harassment or assault during various private massage sessions, a grand jury decided Friday, per The Houston Chronicle.
The decision arrived the same day Watson "was deposed in connection with two of the 22 civil lawsuits against him, which are separate legal matters," the Chronicle writes. The quarterback, who has not played for the Texans since the first lawsuit was filed in March 2020, was counseled by his attorney Rustin Hardin to assert his Fifth Amendment right during his testimony until the possibility of a criminal investigation had passed, ESPN writes.
The NFL released a brief statement shortly after news of the grand jury's decision broke, writing, "We have been closely monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy."
Watson, 26, has denied all allegations.
"We are delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did," Hardin said of the decision in a statement.
The quarterback must still contend with the 22 civil suits, however, in which women allege Watson refused to cover his genitals or forced them to put his penis in their mouths, among other claims, per Sports Illustrated and The New York Times.
With criminal charges now off the table, "it's likely a number of NFL teams interested in [Watson] will begin pursuing a trade," notes Bleacher Report. Before the lawsuits began, the quarterback had already begun looking to get out of Houston.
Watson later called the grand jury's decision "a very emotional moment for me," per the Chronicle.