Deshaun Watson sent a clear message to female Cleveland Browns fans on Friday ... saying he understands the seriousness of the sexual misconduct allegations made against him -- but maintaining he "never assaulted any woman."
Watson opened his conference by thanking Dee and Jimmy Haslam for bringing him to the organization ... saying he was excited to have an opportunity to prove his true character.
Watson spoke about the public outcry following the trade ... saying, "I understand the whole circumstances is very difficult, especially for the women side of the fans in this community. I'm not naïve to that. I know these allegations are very, very serious but like I mentioned before, I never assaulted any woman, I never disrespected any woman."
He added ... "I was raised by a single-parent mom, who has two aunties, who has a sister ... and that's who raised me. I was raised to be genuine and respect everyone and everything around me. I've always defended that and I will continue to stand on that."
GM Andrew Berry acknowledged the transaction was "difficult" and "triggered" emotions within the community ... but doubled down on the team's claim it did its due diligence when it decided to pursue Watson.
Berry says the team used independent investigators in Houston to provide an unbiased conclusion ... claiming the team has faith in Watson as a person.
Berry says the team was advised to NOT reach out to the 22 women accusing Watson of sexual misconduct ... as it could impact the criminal proceedings.
As we previously reported, Watson was traded to the Browns in exchange for three first-round picks, one third-round pick and two fourth-round picks last week.
The 26-year-old is currently facing a mountain of lawsuits over claims of sexual misconduct made by more than 20 massage therapists ... yet he has adamantly denied any wrongdoing.
Grand juries in Harris and Brazoria counties have declined to charge Watson over the allegations ... but he could still face additional charges in other states.