On Tuesday, a 23rd lawsuit was filed against Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson. The complaint, a copy of which PFT has obtained and reviewed, details three different incidents involving the plaintiff, Nia Smith, and Watson.
Smith, who went public last August in a podcast appearance with her contentions against Watson, explains in the lawsuit that she previously “did not want to put herself and her family through the turmoil of a long, drawn out public lawsuit.” She also contends that the received “death threats” after he name “found its way into the public sphere.”
“She did not want to subject herself to further abuse and ugliness she has seen thrown at other victims by the Watson defense team, public relations team and Watson’s fanatics,” the document contends at page 2.
Smith “changed her mind” after seeing last week’s item on HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel; she claims she “was struck by the courage of the victims willing to step forward and speak, and was extremely displeased by Watson and his legal team’s mistreatment and revictimization of the Plaintiffs.”
The lawsuit contends that Smith had encounters with Watson on June 7, 2020, August 24, 2020, and in early September 2020. She claims that his “behavior grew worse during every massage.”
For the first incident, Watson allegedly asked that only the plaintiff be in the room. Watson (per the complaint) “kept demanding Plaintiff to go inside of his anus.” The complaint acknowledges that the plaintiff was not offended by the request, that she did not comply with it, and that she “decided to give Watson the benefit of the doubt as she thought that maybe he was ashamed and embarrassed of this fetish.”
For the second massage, the plaintiff contends that Watson asked her to wear a sundress. The plaintiff did not comply with the request. From the complaint: “Watson’s behavior escalated during the second session. He would try to grab Plaintiff’s buttocks and would brush up against her butt, trying to make it look like an accident. Plaintiff pushed his hand away from her. Every time she did that, Watson would say ‘What?’ Watson knew that Plaintiff was uncomfortable. He kept asking Plaintiff if she wanted his penis in her mouth. Plaintiff was feeling extremely uncomfortable by this point, but she wanted to stay professional and not cause any conflict. Watson was much bigger and much stronger, and they were alone in a room. She was deathly afraid of what he would do if she reprimanded him.”
The plaintiff did not want to do the third massage. She contends that she was pressured by her boss to do it. From the complaint, as to the third massage: “He repeatedly requested that Plaintiff have sex with him. He told Plaintiff he had a condom in his bag. He touched Plaintiff in between his legs. She had to massage him from a distance as a way to avoid his groping. When the massage was over, she decided to quit her job at the salon.”
Although the complaint includes no allegations against Smith’s supervisor or the salon, Smith contends that her boss “facilitated massages for Watson and knew Watson was attempting to have sex with them.”
It’s not entirely clear what Smith hopes to obtain in the way of financial compensation. At the top of page 3, the complaint says this: “She brings this case seeking minimum compensation, but to obtain a court finding that Watson’s conduct was wrong.” At page 11, however, the complaint says this: “Plaintiff seeks any and all damages to which she may be entitled. As stated, Plaintiff also
seeks exemplary damages to determine such conduct going forward, and to make an example of this
She has every right to seek full compensation from Watson, if she can provide that he engaged in actionable misconduct. She also has apparent rights against her former supervisor and the salon at which she worked, if she chooses to pursue those rights.
Watson has denied all wrongdoing, in this case and in the other 22 pending cases.