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Deshaun Watson suspended for six games for violating NFL personal conduct policy

Deshaun Watson is expected to be suspended for six games after 24 message therapists accused him of sexual misconduct. AP Photographer Ron Schwane
Deshaun Watson was reportedly suspended six games by the NFL following a disciplinary hearing after being accused of sexual misconduct by 24 massage therapists in Texas.

According to a source, former federal judge Sue L. Robinson found Deshaun Watson in violation of the personal conduct policy and suspended him for six games.

— August 1, 2022, Adam Schefter (@AdamSchifter)

The decision was made based on a recommendation made by former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson, who presided over a three-day hearing in late June to determine whether Watson’s actions violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. The union or the league may appeal the six-game suspension, in which case commissioner Roger Goodell is authorized to make the final decision under the collective bargaining agreement.

On Sunday night, the union stated that it would stand by its decision. The league has three days to decide whether or not to file an appeal.

Watson had faced a one-year indefinite suspension from the NFL. In March, he was cleared of all criminal charges, and in June, he settled 20 civil cases against him. According to the women’s lawyer, three of the four remaining cases were also settled on Monday morning, leaving one pending civil suit.

Watson entered the NFL in 2017, after the Houston Texans selected him with the No. 12 overall pick out of Clemson. He was named to three straight Pro Bowls, but he reportedly requested a trade before the 2021 season and sat out the entire season. The first allegation leveled against him surfaced in March 2021.

Watson signed a record $230 million, fully guaranteed contract with the Browns just one week after Texas grand juries declined to indict him.

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His suspension is the most recent in a long line of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violations of the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

The NFL unveiled an updated Personal Conduct Policy in December 2014, months after a graphic video of Ray Rice knocking his then-fiance Janay Palmer unconscious was released, that established a baseline six-game suspension without pay for “violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence, or sexual assault.” The league also reserved the right to impose harsher penalties under the new policy, depending on the circumstances of the violation.

Despite progress in educating and addressing violence within the league, players such as Ezekiel Elliott and Jameis Winston have been suspended for reports of domestic violence and sexual harassment. Winston, who was investigated for rape while at Florida State, received a three-game suspension in 2018 for allegedly groping a female Uber driver. According to league insider Tom Pelissero, this sentence, which is half of the six-game minimum established in 2014, was settled through “league negotiations.”