Antonio Brown Accused of Rape in a Lawsuit

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Antonio Brown of the New England Patriots, the most prominent wide receiver in the N.F.L., has been accused of raping a woman who worked as his trainer, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida.

The lawsuit says that Brown — in three separate incidents, two in June 2017 and another in May 2018 — sexually assaulted a woman named Britney Taylor, a gymnast whom he met while they were attending Central Michigan together and whom he later hired as a trainer.

The lawsuit was filed one day after Brown, 31, became a Patriot following a brief, turbulent tenure with the Oakland Raiders that ended when he requested his release last week. Late Tuesday night, the Patriots issued a statement saying that the N.F.L. planned to do its own investigation of the accusations against Brown.

“Mr. Brown denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit,” said a statement from Darren Heitner, a lawyer representing Brown. “He will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations.”

The statement characterized Taylor’s lawsuit as motivated by money. It was not clear whether Taylor reported her accusations to the police.

According to the suit, Brown sexually assaulted Taylor twice during training sessions in June 2017. First, he exposed himself and kissed her without permission, the lawsuit says. Later that month, the lawsuit says, while they were streaming religious programming on a tablet at his South Florida home, Brown started masturbating behind Taylor and ejaculated on her back. The lawsuit contains images of profane messages that Taylor says Brown sent to her about the incident.

Taylor ended her working relationship with Brown, the lawsuit says, but several months later, when he contacted her to apologize, she relented. She was, according to the lawsuit, “swayed by his assurance that he would cease any sexual advances.”

Then, the lawsuit says, on May 20, 2018, Brown forced her onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress and “forcibly” raped her. She tried to resist him, screaming and repeatedly shouting “no” and “stop,” the lawsuit says, but Brown refused and penetrated her.

The statement from Brown’s lawyer acknowledged at least one instance when the two engaged in consensual sex and also said that “any sexual interaction with Mr. Brown was entirely consensual.”

The lawsuit says that Taylor told at least three people about the incidents: her mother, Brown’s chef and a member of her church, who advised her to come forward.

“As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision,” Taylor, 28, said in a statement released by her lawyer. “I have found strength in my faith, my family, and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault.”

In the statement, she said she would cooperate with the N.F.L. in an investigation. The league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, has the power to discipline players under a personal conduct policy that does not depend on the outcome of legal proceedings. In 2014, the N.F.L. hired specialists in domestic violence cases to do their own investigations of allegations.

“We take these allegations very seriously,” the Patriots’ statement said of the lawsuit against Brown. “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.”

An N.F.L. spokesman declined to comment.

According to Taylor’s lawsuit, she and Brown met as Bible study partners at Central Michigan and they stayed in contact after Brown reached the N.F.L., as a sixth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010.

Brown spent nine years with the Steelers, being named to the Pro Bowl in seven of them, but his time there ended unhappily. He pressed for a trade after the 2018 season and joined the Raiders, who rarely saw him in uniform. Brown sat out most of training camp, because of a foot injury reportedly sustained in a cryogenic chamber, and also because of league safety rules that prevented him from using his preferred helmet model.

The Raiders ultimately fined Brown $54,000 for failing to practice and conduct detrimental to the team, notifying him with a letter that he later posted to his Instagram account — the same place where he asked to be cut after the team used provisions in his contract to void about $30 million of the deal.

Ken Belson contributed reporting.

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