On the one hand, Brown’s quarterback Deshaun Watson 24 different women have accused him in civil court of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. On the other hand, Watson was never charged with a crime.
In the middle is the NFL. Because the Watson case has become the first to be heard under the competition’s new procedure for identifying violations of the Personal Conduct Policy, no one knows what will happen.
The league wants a suspension of at least one year. (In fact, the continued lack of news about the proceedings has led to the NFL still wanting a minimum one-year suspension, the legal equivalent of Chevy Chase’s periodic updates on Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s health.) Watson wants all the way. no punishment.
Retired Federal Judge Sue L. Robinson has presided over three days of hearings. She will make the decision based on the facts, as sufficiently proven (or not) by the competition.
What are the facts? The NFL is known to focus on five claims against Watson. It is known that no one claims to have committed violence or used physical violence against anyone. Some believe he had a habit/fetish of seeking massages and hoping they would become sexual.
Since the Personal Conduct Policy prohibits “assault and/or assault, including sexual assault or other sex crimes” and creates a basic six-game suspension for “assault involving physical assault or violence committed against someone incapable of consent”, it is true the basis for punishing Watson for assault or any kind? Sure, the NFL Players Association has been making that clear all week.
That said, the policy contains two important comprehensive provisions: (1) “conduct that poses a real danger to the safety and well-being of another person”; and (2) “conduct that undermines or jeopardizes the integrity of the NFL, NFL clubs, or NFL personnel.” The competition’s argument would (or could be) that Watson’s apparent habit/fetish falls under both broad categories. Any maybe does it.
But here’s the problem: Patriots owner Robert Kraft got no penalty at all for a massage that reportedly turned into something more than a massage. While the two cases involve VERY different facts, there is a common thread of massage-became-more. If that behavior wasn’t something that led to punishment for Kraft, how could it lead to punishment for Watson – especially since the personal behavior policy explicitly states that owners are held to higher standards?
Nobody knows how this will end. However, it makes sense to consider the possibility that Judge Robinson will enforce the policy as written, that she will strictly enforce it, that she will expect the NFL to have credible evidence of one or more violations, and that it will not. to do. tend to punish Watson simply because he has a habit/fetish of hoping that private massages will become sexual, when an owner has had no control whatsoever after a massage that has supposedly become sexual. Simply put, there’s a chance Judge Robinson won’t, if at all, impose Watson.
If Judge Robinson Watson already imposes a penalty, the league can of course appeal the decision to the commissioner, who can increase the penalty. Judge Robinson’s factual findings, which are binding on the appeals process, could put the commissioner in a corner.
In other words, if she imposes little or no penalty, the decision will likely come with specific written findings that make it very difficult to justify increasing the penalty.
Judge Robinson was unable to punish Deshaun Watson much, if at all originally appeared on Pro Football Talk