Thirteen women accused of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct should identify themselves with the NFL star, two judges said on Friday.
The decisions made by Harris County District Court Judge Dedra Davis and Rabeea Sultan Collier could lead to the discovery of all of Watson's defendants "Jane Doe", who said the star's quarterback showed misconduct during a massage in 2020 and earlier this year.
Two of the 13 must re-submit their cases and names before the end of Wednesday, with the rest remaining until the end of Tuesday, according to the ruling.
Last week, two of Jane Doe's suspects identified themselves.
In his public statement on the allegations, Watson denied that he had ever treated women in any way without great respect. Watson's lawyer said he had never "forced a woman to commit a sexual act."
Defense attorney Rusty Hardin requested that all the plaintiffs be identified, saying his client could not defend himself without immediately identifying the plaintiffs.
In a statement called in a hurry on Friday facing 12 charges, attorney Tony Buzbee told Judge Collier that nine of his clients had already agreed to submit their names to the courts.
The judge ruled that all 12 Buzbee customers must amend their public grievances in their own names.
Earlier in the day, Judge Davis ordered that a single woman's case be cleared within two business days with her name.
Hardin said there was a line between identifying victims of sexual harassment in a criminal court and a civil court.
"They should be allowed to report anonymously (in criminal matters)," Hardin told Judge Collier, "but if we go to a public place where an independent person decides to seek redress for what they are protesting against, you must clearly identify yourself because the person (suspect) has a right to know."
Buzbee has read online threats made to some of his clients, arguing that forced disclosure of their names could be dangerous.
"We will amend these nine cases and in the end we may prepare some more," he said at a recent hearing. “But I think there is a balance test here. And I think the rating test should consider the safety of these claimants. ”
Watson has been receiving massage therapy, Hardin told reporters later on Friday. But unfortunately, Watson did not have access to his regular medical team and was forced to reach out to other providers who were unaware of his massage needs, Hardin said.
Watson emphasized that he did not force any women to have unwanted sex.