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Former Texans quarterback Watson says he wants to prove his character in Cleveland

 Cleveland Browns new quarterback Deshaun Watson speaks during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.
Ron Schwane
Associated Press
Cleveland Browns new quarterback Deshaun Watson speaks during a news conference at the NFL football team’s training facility, Friday, March 25, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.

Former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson said he's looking to move on after two Houston-area grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges and amid ongoing lawsuits from 22 women accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Watson, who was traded to the Browns last week, was introduced in Cleveland Friday and faced questions from reporters about criminal and civil complaints surrounding allegedly sexually inappropriate massage sessions.

"All I can do is keep moving forward and continue to show the person that I am, the true character, the true person, the true human-being I am," Watson said at an introductory press conference. "I've 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, wearing a tie that matched the team colors of the Browns, sat alongside Cleveland General Manager Andrew Berry and said he has no regrets about what's happened over the past 14 months since requesting his trade.The quarterback added that he understands why fans might be skeptical after the allegations that kept him sidelined for the entire football season.

"I've always been hands-on in the community of Houston, back home in Gainesville and back home in Clemson, and that's what I want to do, is to be able to get back to that person that people knew I was before all these allegations," Watson said.

On Thursday, a grand jury in Brazoria County declined to indict Watson on a single criminal complaint over an incident that occurred in Pearland. A woman had complained that Watson was sexually inappropriate during a massage session.

A Harris County grand jury also declined to indict Watson on a number of criminal complaints on March 11.

"We've known all along what people who learn the facts also know – Deshaun committed no crimes," his attorney, Rusty Hardin, wrote in a statement Thursday.

Tony Buzbee, a Houston attorney representing the 22 women, said he respected the results of the grand jury process but that it had no bearing on the civil litigation in front of a Harris County judge.

"We understand there are at times parallel proceedings, but what happens criminally has no bearing whatsoever on our efforts on the civil side," Buzbee said. "We are very confident in these cases and in these women; we are incredibly proud of the strength they have shown."

Watson, who signed a five-year, $230 million contract with the Browns, wasn't specific when he was asked about why he wanted to leave Houston. He requested a trade last year before the allegations.

"It was just a time for both of us to part ways," Watson said. "I was honest and straightforward with the organization and they were honest with me and we came to the conclusion that this was the best situation."

Watson still faces lawsuits in nearly two dozen civil cases alleging sexual misconduct during massages and said there are no plans to settle those lawsuits out of court.

The NFL is investigating the allegations and Watson could face a suspension next season.

Jack Williams | Houston Public Media