A grand jury will hear evidence Friday in the case involving Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, the same day he also will face questions for the first time in at least some of his pending civil lawsuits.
Watson's attorney Rusty Hardin confirmed the timing of the criminal and civil proceedings to ESPN and added he'll instruct Watson to assert his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself during his testimony in the civil case Friday, given that he could be criminally charged that same day.
"I'm not going to let him answer questions from anybody before that grand jury has made its decision. There's not a lawyer in the country that would," Hardin told ESPN on Tuesday night.
The New York Times first reported Tuesday that several of the women who have filed criminal complaints against Watson have been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury Friday.
The grand jury process does not require a unanimous vote. If nine of the 12 grand jurors return what's known as a "true bill" under Texas law, Harris County, Texas, District Attorney Kim Ogg could then opt to proceed with a criminal case against Watson, Hardin said.
The range of potential criminal charges Watson faces include indecent assault, assault and harassment, all misdemeanor offenses. He could also be charged with the more serious sexual assault, a second-degree felony in Texas, punishable by two-to-20 years in prison.
The district attorney's office has declined to comment on the case.
The 22 civil cases filed against Watson accuse him of a range of actions during massage appointments, from touching women with his genitals to forced oral sex.
While a decision on criminal charges could come as early as Friday, Watson will face several days of depositions in the 22 pending civil cases, as each of the plaintiff's in those cases can question him for up to two hours, Hardin said.
"Once the grand jury process is concluded we intend for him to start answering questions in depositions," Hardin said.
Watson continues to be the source of NFL trade rumors despite his legal troubles. He did not play all season for the Texans but remained on the active roster.