Judge Sue Robinson delivered the decision against Deshaun Watson on Monday with a written ruling that referred to a certain piece of evidence nine times in 16 pages.
It’s about his towel habit.
The Cleveland Browns defender prefers to use a towel to spread himself out during massage sessions instead of a larger towel and sometimes even carries his own medium or small towel, according to court records.
Why is this problem?
Robinson, the NFL’s independent disciplinary officer, handed Watson a six-game ban on Monday after he was sued by 24 women accusing him of sexual misconduct during cool sessions- away in 2020 and early 2021. Her verdict recorded the evidence nine times, helping her to conclude that Watson had “sexual purposes” in these encounters.
Professional massage therapists often provide larger sheets to cover clients as a way to avoid exposing clients to unwanted private parts. In these cases, the women often said that Watson exposed his genitals to them during massage sessions and made his genitals touch them – behavior easier when he insisted on using a smaller towel instead of a sheet, according to Robinson’s judgment.
Robinson stated in his ruling: “Watson reached out to women whose qualifications were dubious and unimportant to him. “He insisted on using a towel, increasing the possibility of exposure. He insists on asking therapists to focus on areas of his body that do not cause abnormal erections. And he has engaged in this pattern of behavior many times.
“I find this circumstantial evidence sufficient to support the NFL’s argument not only that contact occurred, but that Mr. Watson knew that contact might have occurred, and that Mr. Watson had sexual intent. education – not just for therapeutic purposes – in doing these things. arranging with these specific therapists.”
The NFL has been investigating evidence against Watson since last year and has been trying to convince Robinson that he violated the league’s personal conduct policy and should be suspended for it.
The towel evidence helped Robinson reach that conclusion and determine he engaged in sexual assault against four women whose testimony was highlighted by the NFL in the case against him.
After a three-day hearing in June, Robinson, a retired federal judge, used a three-part test to determine if he was guilty of sexual assault under the definition of NFL or not: Did he intend to make contact with his penis? Was he doing it for sexual purposes? And did he know these women were not so eager to have such contact?
Evidence of the scarf helped reveal his intentions and intentions, which, in her judgment, also showed that Watson knew that sexual contact with these women was undesirable. Robinson notes Watson’s intentions in these encounters “must be inferred from circumstantial evidence in the unlikely event that it is admissible.”
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“There is no question that Mr Watson prefers a towel over the traditional linen used, and there is no question that a medium or small towel is more likely to slip off the body. more than a towel, leaving the client exposed,” wrote Robinson, who was appointed to her position by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.
Robinson ruled that “whole evidence”, including his use of towels and his focus points for massages, supported her conclusion that it was more likely that Watson was not getting an erection. and his erect penis was exposed as they claimed.
Of the 24 women suing Watson, Robinson’s ruling noted that NFL investigators were only able to interview 12, and of those 12, the NFL relied on its conclusions on the testimony of four, along with with other evidence and third-party interviews. According to the women’s attorney, Tony Buzbee, all but one of those 24 lawsuits ended with a confidential settlement.
Watson, 26, has denied wrongdoing and has never been arrested or charged. He didn’t object to his towel preference.
He testified about that in a pre-trial hearing on May 13.
“This is the towel I’m going to use,” Watson said he told a massage therapist in March 2020, according to deposition transcripts obtained by USA TODAY Sports.
Such was the case with massage therapist Ashley Solis, who said that Watson exposed her and caused his genitals to touch her without her consent.
Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, previously told USA TODAY Sports that this was a personal preference for Watson and not evidence of any unwanted intentions. “He always made it clear that for comfort reasons he wanted as few suits as possible that still covered him,” Hardin said in June.
‘Why did you bring a towel?’
Watson was also asked about it in the May deposition.
“Why did you bring a towel?” plaintiff’s attorney Maria Holmes asked him.
“Because it was – we talked on the phone and I told her I was bringing a towel,” he replied. “We communicated with that and that’s the way it was.”
His turban habit is known in some circles as the “turban trick” and was mentioned in pre-trial testimony by a Houston police detective who investigated the complaints. about Watson’s behavior.
In another case, Watson testified during one arrest he drove about 25 miles south of Houston to get a massage at a woman’s mother’s home, where he brought a towel and a deal. do not disclose to the woman to sign.
“You’re sitting there in your car, in Manvel, (Texas), with a towel and your NDA waiting for her, aren’t you?” Buzbee asked him.
“I guess if you make it seem so, yes sir,” replied Watson.
That case and the Solis case are among the four highlighted by the NFL in this disciplinary action against Robinson, according to clues in her ruling.
An expert in the massage and spa industry told USA TODAY Sports that most masseuses use single-size sheets to cover, often with blankets on top.
Expert Felicia Brown, who was not involved in the Watson case, said: “Those who use towels often use beach towels, bath towels or large towels. “Hand towels and washcloths are not generally used to clean the groin area because they do not provide enough coverage, warmth, or boundaries for a massage.”
Curtains are designed to provide warmth, privacy and humility to their clients, device hygiene, and physical boundaries between therapist and client, she said.
“It is quite rare for clients to bring their own towels or sheets when they go for a massage, and it is unlikely that a female masseuse would feel comfortable with a male client doing so,” she said.
In his ruling, Robinson noted Watson required therapists to use towels to cover his private areas instead of the more commonly used sheet.
“Mr. Watson often provides his own towels, which are variously described as ‘medium/small’ towels or ‘Gatorade’ towels,” writes Robinson.
The NFL had previously sought an indefinite suspension for at least one season and could appeal Robinson’s ruling to extend it by more than six games.
According to reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org