“After a Harris County grand jury was presented all the evidence and had the opportunity to hear from all witnesses, grand jurors declined to indict Deshaun Watson,” Dane Schiller, the spokesman for the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, said in a statement Friday. “Grand jury proceedings are secret by law, so no information related to their inquiry may be disclosed.”
Watson, 26, is also facing 22 civil lawsuits. Friday’s hearing comes less than one year from the filing of the first two lawsuits for indecent conduct against Watson.
“It’s definitely a very emotional moment for me,” Watson said Friday, per The Houston Chronicle. “I thank everyone that was a part of this of seeing and hearing both sides, and that’s what my point and my team wanted to do is have a fair slate of us telling our side of the story and letting the conclusion come down to what happened today.”
Watson added: “Going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community. We’re going to continue on the legal side off the field handle what we need to handle, but also ready to get back on the field.”
On Friday, Watson appeared at a deposition for the civil lawsuits and declined to answer questions pertaining to the case, invoking his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, per The New York Times. Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, previously had said Watson would not answer questions during depositions until the criminal case was closed.
The allegations against Watson include that he exposed himself to the women, touched them with his genitals or kissed them against their will during massage sessions.
“We are delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did. Deshaun Watson did not commit any crimes and is not guilty of any offenses,” Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement. “Now that the criminal investigations have been completed, we are happy to move forward with the civil case depositions. We will vigorously defend those cases with every ounce we have.”
Hardin stated previously that “some sexual activity” occurred during the massage sessions, but that Watson did not “engage in anything that was not mutually desired by the other party.”
The NFL began investigating the allegations in March of 2021, and the Houston Police Department announced last April that it had opened an investigation after a complaint was issued against Watson. The FBI has also looked into the allegations.
An NFL spokesperson released the following statement Friday:
“We have been closely monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy.”
Watson requested to be traded from the Texans prior to the allegations, and he was inactive for all 17 of the Texans’ games during the 2021 NFL season.
Watson was the subject of trade speculation throughout the 2021 season with the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers discussed as potential landing spots. A trade never materialized before the Nov. 2021 deadline, and Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine that the “door is shut” on Watson joining Miami.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported this week that the Panthers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are possible trade destinations for Watson, depending on the outcome of his legal situation.
Houston general manager Nick Caserio said in January that it is unlikely Watson will be playing for the team again.
The Texans selected Watson in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He has made three Pro Bowls during his career and led the NFL in passing (4,823 yards) during the 2020 season.