Former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey Selected to Hear Appeal of NFL’s Deshaun Watson Decision

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has tapped former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s appeal of his six-game suspension.

The NFL is seeking a more severe sanction under the league’s personal conduct policy in the wake of disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson’s ruling Monday. Under the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell had the option of considering the appeal himself or appointing a designee.

A source told ESPN’s Jake Trotter that the NFL is asking for an indefinite suspension that would be for a minimum of one year (as it had previously sought), a monetary fine (which Robinson did not impose on Watson) and the treatment the player should receive. star quarterback. undergo.

Harvey now works as a partner at the Paterson Belknap firm in New York. He has also served as a federal prosecutor and is currently a member of the NFL’s Diversity Advisory Committee, which assesses diversity in the league.

Noting his qualifications, the league said Harvey “has extensive experience in criminal law, including domestic violence and sexual assault, and has advised the NFL and other professional leagues on the development and implementation of policies in the workplace.” workplace, including the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.

Harvey has also served as Goodell’s appointee in other arbitrations.

Watson has been accused of sexual assault and other misconduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits brought by 25 women. The encounters alleged in the lawsuits took place from March 2020 to March 2021, while Watson was a member of the Houston Texans.

In issuing the six-game suspension, Robinson wrote that “the NFL has shouldered the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson engaged in a sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four identified therapists.” in the Report.”

While building on precedent, Robinson sought to differentiate between violent and nonviolent sexual conduct. Robinson concluded that Watson’s conduct “does not fall into the category of violent conduct that would require the minimum six-game suspension” that the league had established as “by far the most commonly imposed discipline for domestic or gender-based violence and sexual acts.” .

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans. Cleveland then gave Watson a new five-year contract that was the richest deal in NFL history for any player.

ESPN’s Jake Trotter and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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