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The hearing will be overseen by former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson, who will act as an independent officer. Watson, who faces allegations of varying degrees of sexual assault and misconduct by 24 women, will be represented by the NFLPA. The outcome of the hearing is expected to determine what, if any suspension Watson faces as he enters his first season as quarterback of the Cleveland Browns.
The attorney for Watson's accusers Tony Buzbee announced last week that Watson had settled 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits he faced. Terms of the settlements were not announced. The four remaining lawsuits remain pending. Two separate grand juries in Texas declined in March to indict Watson with criminal charges.
Report: NFL seeks indefinite suspension of at least 1 year
Per Schefter, the NFL intends to argue for a "lengthy" suspension during the hearing. The league intends to cite testimony from some of Watson's accusers, per the report. The Washington Post's Mark Maske and the Wall Street Journal's Andrew Beaton report that the NFL plans to argue for an indefinite suspension of at least one year.
Per Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, the NFLPA intends to argue against a suspension without pay while citing the lack of harsh punishments for NFL owners linked to sexual misconduct allegations. Robinson is expected to rule before the July 27 start of training camp, according to Cabot.
Robinson has oversight per a 2020 collective bargaining agreement stipulation that calls for the NFL and NFLPA to agree on an independent officer to oversee such cases rather than commissioner Roger Goodell. Both sides will have the option to file an appeal, which would be heard by Goodell or another independent officer.
Harris County (Houston) district attorney Kim Ogg said in a recent podcast appearance of the Watson case that "a grand jury no bill is not an exoneration."
"I think to determine whether justice was done in this case you’re going to have to wait and see how it all comes out on the civil side of things and then through the NFL on the administrative side of things," Ogg told "The Mike Melster Podcast."
Per the reports, this is the first time Robinson will oversee an NFL hearing. She served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware from 1991 to 2017, including a stint as chief judge from 2000-07.