Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has been accused of exploiting, sexually assaulting, and raping his former trainer Britney Taylor, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida.
Here’s what we know:
Warning: Some content and language in this lawsuit is graphic.
How they met
According to the lawsuit, Taylor and Brown met at Central Michigan University, where they were bible study partners in the college’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group.
Taylor started her freshman year at Central Michigan in 2010 and was a member of the school’s gymnastics team, per school records. Brown started his freshman year in 2007 and was a member of the school’s football team. In 2010, he forwent his senior season and declared for the NFL Draft.
In “approximately 2013,” the lawsuit says, Brown asked Taylor via social media for a picture of her. Taylor, who had transferred to LSU for her junior and senior seasons, sent a photo of her face, according to the lawsuit. When Brown requested a more revealing photo, Taylor declined, according to the lawsuit.
After Taylor graduated from LSU in 2013, she and Brown fell out of touch for “approximately four years,” according to the lawsuit. During that time, Taylor opened a gymnastics training center in Memphis.
In June 2017, the lawsuit says, Brown reached out to Taylor via Facebook to ask how she was doing and expressed an interest in improving the flexibility and strength in his ankles and fast-twitch muscles. The pair agreed to meet for two training sessions per week, according to the lawsuit.
The nature of the allegations
According to the lawsuit, Brown first sexually assaulted Taylor in June 2017. During a training session at Brown’s Pittsburgh residence, the lawsuit says, Brown exposed himself and kissed Taylor without her consent. Taylor was staying with Brown in his home because he had not booked her a hotel room, the lawsuit says.
During another training session later that month, this time at Brown’s Miami residence, the lawsuit says, Brown began masturbating behind Taylor while they were watching a church service on her iPad, and he ejaculated on her back. Brown then bragged about the incident in “astonishingly profane and angry” text messages, according to the lawsuit.
Following the second incident, the lawsuit says, Taylor confided in Brown’s chef and said she would be terminating her training with Brown. Taylor then received a text message from Brown that said she was fired, according to the lawsuit.
Taylor cut off communication with Brown, the lawsuit says, but the pair rekindled their working relationship after Brown apologized and promised to “cease any sexual advances.” In April 2018, the lawsuit says, they resumed their training sessions. Taylor was also tasked with other administrative tasks, such as booking travel, according to the lawsuit.
In May 2018, the lawsuit says, Brown invited Taylor out to a Miami club with a group of friends. At the end of the night, back at Brown’s Miami residence, the lawsuit says, Brown cornered Taylor, “forced her down onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress, and forcibly raped her.” Taylor screamed and cried, the lawsuit says, shouting “no” and “stop” throughout the rape. Brown refused and penetrated her, the lawsuit says.
Taylor drove back to her hotel room and returned the next morning, according to the lawsuit. She told Brown they needed to discuss what happened the night prior, to which he responded, according to the lawsuit, “You made me feel like a real rapist.”
Following the third incident, the lawsuit says, Taylor ceased working for Brown.
What Taylor is saying
According to the lawsuit, Taylor viewed her relationship with Brown as that of a brother and sister. She never dated or “had an interest in any romantic relationship” with Brown, according to the lawsuit.
Brown’s actions have “severely traumatized” Taylor, the lawsuit says, and she has subsequently suffered near-daily panic attacks and suicidal ideations. Taylor intends to “recover compensatory and punitive damages for the significant harm Brown caused by this brutal and sadistic misconduct,” the lawsuit says.
“As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision,” Taylor said in a statement, via her lawyer. “I have found strength in my faith, my family and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault.”
Taylor also said in the statement she would cooperate with the NFL in an investigation.
What Brown is saying
Brown has vehemently denied the allegations in a statement released Tuesday evening via his lawyer Darren Heitner. According to the statement, Brown plans to “pursue all legal remedies” to clear his name. Heitner tweeted later Tuesday night that Brown will “leave no stone unturned and will aggressively defend himself, including exercising all of his rights in countersuits.” ESPN’s Josina Anderson reported Tuesday night that Brown intends to countersue Taylor for civil extortion.
According to the statement from Brown’s legal team, Taylor asked Brown in 2017 to invest $1.6 million dollars in her “business project.”
“Mr. Brown was not informed by his accuser that she had just been levied with a $30,000 IRS tax lien or that $300,000 of the $1.6 million so-called ‘investment’’ was to be used to purchase property already owned by the accuser and her mother,” read the statement.
When Brown refused to make the investment, the statement says, Taylor stopped contacting him until 2018, when she offered to help him train for the upcoming season.
“Thereafter, the accuser engaged Mr. Brown in a consensual personal relationship,” read the statement. “Any sexual interaction with Mr. Brown was entirely consensual.”
According to the statement, Taylor traveled to Brown’s residences on multiple occasions, maintained communication with Brown throughout 2018, and continually posted photos of Brown on her social media accounts.
In May 2018, the statement says, Taylor invited herself to party with Brown and friends at a Miami club. The pair then returned to Brown’s residence and engaged in consensual sex, according to the statement.
What the Patriots are saying
The Patriots released a statement Tuesday night, acknowledging they were aware of both the civil lawsuit and the response from Brown’s representatives.
“We take these allegations very seriously,” read the statement. “Under no circumstance does this organization condone sexual violence or assault. The league has informed us that they will be investigating. We will have no further comment while that investigation takes place.”
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the allegations caught the team by surprise.
What the NFL could do
Because the allegations are part of a civil lawsuit, Brown is still eligible to play Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. Brown officially joined the Patriots Monday and was expected to participate in practice Wednesday. Roger Goodell could place Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list, which is effectively a paid leave of absence. Brown would remain a Patriot but not count toward New England’s 53-man roster.
If Goodell doesn’t place Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list, then it’s up to the Patriots to make a decision about his future.