Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has been banned from six games on Monday for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The Associated Press.
Watson signed a 5-year deal with the Browns in March, $230 million guaranteed, amid allegations of sexual misconduct during massage sessions involving more than 20 women.
Profootballtalk.com also reported the suspension, adding that no other fine was included in the discipline.
Watson’s attorney and representatives from the NFL, Cleveland Browns and the National Football League Players Association could not be immediately reached for comment Monday morning.
Watson has already missed a lot of time on the field and did not play for the Houston Texans all last season as his legal challenges unfolded and the team tried to trade it.
Retired Federal Judge Sue L. Robinson chaired the disciplinary hearing and made the decision.
Before the suspension came, the National Football League Players Association and Watson issued a joint statement on Sunday, saying they “will support her ruling” and “call on the NFL to do the same.”
The attorney representing the women who accuse Watson of wrongdoing announced confidential settlements in June in 20 of 24 civil lawsuits.
“Today I announce that all but four cases against Deshaun Watson have been closed. We’re working on the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we do that, those specific cases will be dismissed,” attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the plaintiffs in the case, said in a statement to NBC News.
“The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We will not comment further on the settlements or those cases.”
In his statement, Buzbee credited plaintiff Ashley Solis, who came forward first and accused Watson of sexual misconduct. Solis’ case remains one of four unsolved cases.
Buzbee said of the open cases: “Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story. Her case is not settled and so her story and that of the other three brave women will continue. I look forward to hearing these cases in due course, in accordance with other role obligations and the court’s timetable.”
Watson’s accusers allege that he touched them inappropriately after hiring them as massage therapists and personal trainers.
Two Texas grand juries declined to charge Watson in March. The prosecutors in either case did not explain why the grand juries refused to charge.
Watson has denied doing anything.
His attorney, Rusty Hardin, said in a June statement, “Deshaun Watson has done nothing wrong. And as two grand juries have made clear, Deshaun has done nothing illegal.”
“Deshaun has always admitted consensual sexual activity after the massages with three of the plaintiff’s massage therapists. And Deshaun has repeatedly sworn under oath that he did not coerce any of his accusers into sexual contact.”
Watson, a 26-year-old native of Gainesville, Georgia, and alumnus of Clemson University, has served in the NFL since 2017. Watson had his best season in 2020 with the Texans, leading the league with 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns.
The Associated Press and David K. Lic contributed.