CLEVELAND — A Brazoria County, Texas grand jury has declined to indict Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson on sexual misconduct charges.
"After a careful and thorough review of the facts and evidence documented in the reports prepared by the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office and the Houston Police Department, as well as hearing testimony from witnesses, the Grand Jury for Brazoria County has declined to charge Deshaun Watson with any crimes. Accordingly, this matter is closed," said Brazoria County District Attorney Tom Selleck in a statement.
The decision comes hours after The New York Times reported that the grand jury in Brazoria County was considering whether to pursue charges against Watson regarding one of the accusations he previously faced. Earlier this month, a Harris County grand jury rejected nine criminal cases against Watson, but a 10th complaint that was filed with the Houston Police Department was found to have taken place outside its jurisdiction, in Brazoria County.
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, released the following statement to KHOU after the grand jury declined to indict:
"We are thrilled that the Brazoria County grand jury cleared Deshaun Watson of the one remaining criminal allegation. We’ve known all along what people who learn the facts also know - Deshaun committed no crimes. In fact, two separate grand juries have now found that there wasn’t even probable cause to believe he committed a crime.
"Once the Harris County cases were concluded, we were informed that Brazoria County intended to present their case to a grand jury on Wednesday March 23. We, and the complainant, were offered the opportunity to provide any information we wanted to the grand jury.
"It's important to note that both we and the Cleveland Browns knew this grand jury presentation was pending and attempted not to discuss it publicly until it was completed. Now that the criminal investigations and two different grand jury presentations have been completed, I hope the public and the media will take to heart the closing statement from the Brazoria County district attorney’s letter stating: 'Accordingly, this matter is closed.'
"It is time to let the civil litigation proceed at a normal pace and for Deshaun Watson to take his place as the quarterback of the future for the Browns. I am fully confident that the Cleveland community will discover that Deshaun Watson is not just a great quarterback but also an incredibly decent person they will be proud to have represent their city."
News of the new grand jury investigation came less than a week after the Browns acquired Watson in a blockbuster trade with the Houston Texans and signed the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback to a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million extension, setting a new record for the most guaranteed money in an NFL contract. In statements released following the trade, Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski said that they had thoroughly vetted Watson, who still faces civil suits and potential punishment from the NFL regarding accusations of sexual misconduct from 22 women in the Houston area.
Watson, who missed the entirety of the 2021 NFL season while being investigated for the accusations against him, chose to waive his no-trade clause to join the Browns after also being pursued by the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers.