Deshaun Watson cases may have different outcome than criminal proceedings, trade has ‘frightening effect’

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Two grand juries in Texas Refrain from initiating criminal proceedings against the former Houston, TX strategist Deshaun Watson which was traded earlier this month for Cleveland Browns A deal that has since raised questions about the organization’s decision to bring him in despite 22 ongoing civil lawsuits alleging assault and sexual harassment.

But a prominent Texas criminal lawyer who specializes in sexual assault cases believes these civil cases will shed light on the victims’ allegations.

Michelle Simpson Twiggle, who has represented victims of assault and sexual assault in high-profile cases such as the Larry Nassar trial, told Fox News Digital in an interview on Tuesday that she was not shocked by the grand jury decisions in Harris County and Brazoria County. for. charges against Watson and that the outcome of these cases will not necessarily be the same in the civil proceedings.

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“I think what people really miss about certain things is that criminal proceedings generally fail for adult survivors and the burden of proof in a criminal case is much higher than in a civil case or an administrative investigation – like what NFL conducted or conducted by schools because of on-campus sexual assaults – a similar type of administrative investigation into sexual misconduct,” Simpson Twiggle explained.

Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans looks on before their game against the New England Patriots at NRG Stadium on November 22, 2020 in Houston, Texas.
(Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

“A lot of people think there’s no trial and so those allegations don’t hold any weight and I find in my everyday practice that that’s not the case.”

Simpson Twiggle said about 80% of the victims she represents in civil proceedings have not witnessed any criminal prosecution. She cited one of her recent cases in Harris County where the defendant was not indicted by a grand jury despite “irrefutable evidence”, but the victim in her case was ultimately awarded $44 million in in a civil trial.

“The burden and evidence required for a civil suit is different.”

Simpson-Twiggle said civil cases can take months and “sometimes take years” to complete, which could happen in Watson’s situation.


Meanwhile, she expressed concern about Brown and the NFL’s handling of Watson’s trade, arguing it sends a “chilling” message to victims of sexual assault.

Cleveland Browns coach Kevin Stefansky speaks during a press conference introducing quarterback Deshaun Watson at Campus Cross Country Mortgage on March 25, 2022 in Berea, Ohio.
(Nick Camett/Getty Images)

“What we have seen over the years is unfortunately a recurring pattern of the NFL favoring athletes over victims and I think especially in the MeToo or post-MeToo era the NFL is trying to somewhat save face by giving the impression that she is conducting an investigation. , so their decisions and his $230 million contract are acceptable. But I think what’s missing is that investigation and even in their confessions, that doesn’t include talking deeply with the victims.

Simpson Twiggle was referring to comments by Browns general manager Andrew Berry, who failed to say at Watson’s opening press conference on Friday whether the organization had contacted any of the alleged victims directly during his independent investigation.

“As an organization we know that this treatment has been very difficult for many people, especially women in our community, and we recognize that it has evoked a range of emotions, as well as the nature of the allegations, that have deeply affected all of us,” Berry opened the conference by saying.

“It was really during this five-month journey and the information that we were able to gather, the benchmark work, obviously working through the legal process and the legal process, that we were comfortable pursuing the trade for Deshaun.”


But Simpson Tuegel disagrees.

“I think without that aspect of it, it’s not a two-sided investigation… what they really want to do is keep these talented athletes in their organization, make money for them instead of go overboard and at least press a pause so they can get to the bottom of what you’re saying 22 A Different Woman.

“It has a chilling effect, not only on these women, but on other survivors who are addressing this really public issue,” she continued.

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry, left, new quarterback Deshaun Watson, center, and head coach Kevin Stefansky pose for a photo during a press conference at the team's practice facility NFL football, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry, left, new quarterback Deshaun Watson, center, and head coach Kevin Stefansky pose for a photo during a press conference at the team’s practice facility NFL football, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.
(AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Browns fans were divided on the Watson trade, but many spoke out against it, which Simpson Tuegel says is a sign that “hopefully times are constantly changing.”

“I think that says a lot about the fact that this is a different time, especially the number of women who have come forward so bravely and had to come out very publicly anonymously – and that carries weight for a lot of people,” he said. .

“It’s not a fun process for these women, especially when they have to do it in public and with such a public person attached to it. So I think people are fighting back and Brown fans are standing up to say how times will change in terms of responding to sexual misconduct allegations, in that people have the power and fans have the ability to say what is more important than the safety of a good human being. No football games, no money and no wins and Brown’s fans stood up and said it was really impressive, especially some of the public figures who did it.

Watson answered several questions about the veracity of the allegations during his debut with Brown on Friday and repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Jon J. Epps