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The entire decision document written by independent Disciplinary Officer Sue L. Robinson in advance of her six-game suspension of quarterback Deshaun Watson has dropped and it reads like a judge’s decision brief.
Not surprisingly, because Robinson is a retired federal judge.
And as such, she approached her decision-making process in an obviously dispassionate approach that took into account preponderance of evidence and other legal standards.
Robinson ruled only on allegations the NFL made about Watson, with only four witness accounts, and Watson’s direct testimony and depositions.
The document says although Watson worked with more than 60 massage therapists during a 15-month period in question, the NFL only investigated 24 complainants, only 12 of which were interviewed by the league, and only four of which the league used for its conclusions against Watson.
The NFL alleged Watson violated three provisions of its Personal Conduct Policy:
Conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person.
And conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL.
And Robinson ruled Watson violated all three provisions of the NFL Conduct Policy after examining all the evidence. Indeed, the judge ruled the league proved its case.
Robinson found that the NFL showed sufficient circumstantial evidence to prove, “by a preponderance of the evidence” that Watson engaged in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four therapists identified in the report.
Watson, Robinson said, violated the NFL Conduct Policy in this regard.
Robinson said she accepted the fact that “a work environment with sexualized conduct is not a safe environment, and I accept as credible the testimony of these therapists that they felt unsafe.” And so the Robinson ruled the NFL “carried its burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Watson’s conduct posed a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person.”
Robinson also ruled Watson “acted with reckless disregard for the consequences of his actions by exposing himself (and the NFL)” to national public scrutiny and that “Watson’s predatory conduct cast ‘a negative light on the League and its players.’ “
In reaching her conclusion on punishment, Robinson wrote that “there are aggravating factors applicable to Mr. Watson, that is, his lack of expressed remorse and his tardy notice to the NFL of the first filed lawsuit.”
As to mitigating factors, Robinson cited Watson being a first-time offender and a man with an “excellent reputation in his community prior to these events.” He also cooperated with the investigation and has paid restitution, Robinson noted.
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