Attorneys in the case told reporters that the NFL player may plead the Fifth during his testimony while prosecutors with the Harris County District Attorney's Office begin to present evidence to a Houston grand jury. Twenty-two civil lawsuits were filed against Watson starting in March 2021.
The quarterback's legal team has reportedly held off on depositions to "limit information in the civil cases being used in the grand jury proceeding," as reporters described, especially since the grand jury has not criminally indicted the defendant. This is what Rusty Hardin, Watson's defense attorney, told Yahoo:
"The pleading of the Fifth is at my insistence — not Deshaun’s. No lawyer in America would allow his client to answer questions in a civil suit while the same facts and cases are being considered at the same time by a grand jury. I asked [opposing counsel] Tony Buzbee to delay [the deposition] by one day and I would be glad to let Deshaun answer questions once the grand jury completed its investigation. He refused because he wants to create a misimpression in the eyes of the public. Giving a deposition during a grand jury investigation is a nonstarter. We will be glad to give one once the criminal investigation is completed."
As for the prosecution, lawyers told reporters that "multiple" witnesses have been called to testify, including some of the 10 women who filed lawsuits and criminal complaints against the quarterback.
"If that happens, Watson will be forced to plea to the indictment and his criminal case will move forward," according to Yahoo. "Conversely, if jurors do not vote for an indictment, Watson will be released from the criminal complaints as they are presented in the current proceeding and he will continue forward with his civil cases."
Watson had at least one sponsorship suspended during the controversy, and many were scrutinizing the NFL amid trade talks late last year. The FBI joined the criminal investigation months after the lawsuits were filed, and even the NFL has launched their own investigation into Watson.
A decision on the indictment could come as soon as Friday (March 11).