Deshaun Watson news: New Cleveland Browns QB denies sexual assault allegations

Three-time Pro Bowler Deshaun Watson says sexual misconduct allegations took him by surprise and insists he will fight to clear his name.

Deshaun Watson used his unveiling as the new quarterback of the Cleveland Browns to protest his innocence in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct made by 22 women.

A second grand jury recently decided against launching criminal proceedings, but civil lawsuits are still ongoing with 22 women alleging sexual misconduct by Watson during private massage sessions.

Watson did not play for the Houston Texans last season as the allegations against him grew, and it was a controversial move by Cleveland to trade for him this offseason.

The Browns not only handed over three first-round Draft picks to Houston for Watson, but also gave the player a record $230million fully guaranteed contract.

Cleveland have been criticised for the move, and at his presentation Watson was always going to be heavily quizzed on his legal issues - but maintains he is fully innocent.

"I know these allegations are very, very serious," said Watson. "But I've never assaulted any woman. I never disrespected any woman.

Deshaun Watson insists he is innocent

Watson added: "I've never assaulted or disrespected or harassed a woman in my life. That's not how I was raised.

"I know that there's going to be a stain that probably is going to stick with me for a while, but all I can do is keep moving forward and to continue to show the person that I am, the true character, the true person, the true human being I am."

Watson indicated that he would not be trying to settle any of these cases and was focused on clearing his name.

"I never done the things that these people are alleging and I'm going to continue to fight for my name and clear my name and like I've been doing, just cooperate with everything that comes with it."

Watson is currently going through depositions on the cases, and says he understands why female fans of the Browns in particular have been upset by the move.

"I understand the whole circumstance is very difficult, especially for the women's side of the fans in this community; I'm not naive to that," added Watson.

"The things that are off the field right now that came up caught me by surprise because I never did anything that these people are alleging."

Cleveland Browns have confidence in Deshaun Watson

Browns general manager Andrew Berry insists the team have done a thorough investigation of their own into the matter and feel comfortable signing Watson to such a massive contract.

"We as an organisation know this transaction has been very difficult for many people, particularly women in our community," said Berry at the press conference.

"We realise that it's triggered a range of emotions. And that, as well as the nature of the allegations, weighed heavily on us all.

"It was because of the weight of the anticipated reaction and the nature of the allegations that really pushed us to do as much work as possible internally and externally in terms of understanding the cases and who Deshaun was as a person.

"We do have faith and confidence in Deshaun as a person."

The Browns have also protected Watson in case he is suspended by the NFL for violating their code of conduct, as they've made his base salary just $1m this season.

If Watson is suspended and fined, the money will come from a percentage of that figure, and not the massive amount he's actually receiving, part of which has been listed as a signing bonus.

READ MORE: Cleveland Browns make huge trade for Deshaun Watson - handing him record contract

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