The NFL and the New England Patriots are investigating allegations that Antonio Brown sexually assaulted and raped his former Bible study partner and physical trainer – accusations the star wide receiver denies.
Brown, 31, has not been charged with any crime, and the accusations were made Tuesday in a civil lawsuit.
Britney Taylor accuses Brown, who just signed with the Patriots after being released by the Oakland Raiders, of rape and two instances of sexual assault.
Taylor and her lawyer will meet with NFL officials next week, a source with knowledge of the case told CNN. The meeting is scheduled to allow Taylor time to get married.
The source added that Taylor is “ready to share her story with the NFL.”
Taylor claims Brown exploited her “kindness and her religious devotion, casting himself as a person equally dedicated to his religious faith and someone she could trust,” the lawsuit says.
Brown’s agent, lawyer deny allegations
Her attorney, David Haas, declined to comment on the timing of the lawsuit, which comes more than a year after the last alleged assault and days after that Brown signed a multimillion-dollar contract with the New England Patriots following his release from the Oakland Raiders.
Brown’s attorney, Darren Heitner, posted a lengthy statement to his website, saying: “Mr. Brown denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit.”
He writes that Brown and Taylor had a consensual personal relationship that began in 2018 and sexual acts were consensual.
Heitner later tweeted, “Antonio Brown will leave no stone unturned and will aggressively defend himself, including exercising all of his rights in counter suits.”
Agent Drew Rosenhaus also denied the allegations on behalf of his client, telling ESPN that he and Brown “have been unfortunately anticipating this possibility” and he has advised Brown to “let the truth come out,” concentrate on football and cooperate with the NFL, Patriots and players union during the investigations. He described the lawsuit as a “money grab.”
“Please allow the situation to play itself out. Antonio will cooperate,” Rosenhaus told the sports network. “In time, Antonio will be cleared. These allegations in the lawsuit are false.”
The Miami-Dade County Police Department told CNN that its special victims bureau has no reports of sexual assault allegations involving Taylor or Brown. Mike Manko, a spokesman for the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office, also said that neither the prosecutor’s office nor the Northern Regional Police Department received reports regarding the allegations outlined in Taylor’s Tuesday lawsuit.
CNN does not usually name victims of sexual assault, but Taylor is named in a federal lawsuit and provided an on-the-record statement via her attorney to CNN.
Taylor says she’s considered suicide
After the wide receiver’s tumultuous departure from the Raiders, where he reportedly quarreled with management over fines for missing team activities, among other controversies, news reports indicated Brown could take the field Sunday against the Dolphins. He participated in practice Wednesday.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said only, “We are looking into the matter.” The league in recent years has suspended some of its highest-profile players following allegations they violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
“We are aware of the civil lawsuit that was filed earlier today against Antonio Brown, as well as the response by Antonio’s representatives. We take these allegations very seriously,” the Patriots said in a statement late Tuesday. “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.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick discussed the match-up with the Dolphins with reporters Wednesday but declined to answer questions about Brown, saying his focus was on the game.
“Both Antonio and his representatives have made statements and so I’m not going to be expanding on any of those. They are what they are,” he said.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said: “I’m just trying to show up and play football and try to prepare. (The Miami Dolphins are) a good team. I’m going to get ready for them. Things that don’t involve me, don’t involve me.”
CNN does not usually name victims of sexual assault; however, Taylor is named in a federal lawsuit and provided an on the record statement via her attorney to CNN.
“I have found strength in my faith, my family, and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault. Speaking out removes the shame that I have felt for the past year and places it on the person responsible for my rape,” she said in the statement. “I will cooperate with the NFL and any other agencies; however, at this time, I respectfully request that the media please respect my privacy.”
What the lawsuit alleges
Taylor alleges Brown sexually assaulted her twice in June 2017 and raped her in May 2018.
She brushed off the episode because she felt her professional relationship with Brown was important, but later that month, the lawsuit says, she was at his Miami home, where they were watching a church service on a tablet, when he began masturbating behind her and ejaculated on her back. She called her mother, who advised her to leave the premises, she alleges.
Brown later fired her, and sent her notes referencing the incident and accusing her of and her mother of trying to get money out of him, the lawsuit says, providing alleged screenshots of the messages.
The lawsuit says that after the two sexual assaults, Taylor stopped communicating with Brown. In February and March 2018, Brown sent her messages trying to reestablish a training relationship, the lawsuit says.
Taylor agreed, and the lawsuit asserts she ended up adding other duties like running his schedule and babysitting his children.
The suit says they went out with friends to a nightclub in May 2018, and she drove Brown and another man back to Brown’s Miami home. Taylor, who was staying at a hotel, went in to use the bathroom and get food, the suit says.
Brown pulled her into his bedroom where they talked, the lawsuit says. When she tried to leave, Brown raped her on his bed, it says.
The lawsuit says she told her fiancé about the rape months after it happened and that it caused difficulty in their relationship.
Without naming Brown, she relayed her story in January to “#TimesUpNow,” a hashtag representing the movement fighting sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, the lawsuit says, but it does not specify how Taylor contacted the group. Time’s Up Now declined to confirm or deny the report, citing its commitment to protecting sexual assault survivors’ privacy.
A leader at her church – a former sex crimes prosecutor – “recognized the signs of trauma Ms. Taylor was experiencing because of the sexual assault, and recommended she enter intensive therapy and retain legal counsel,” the court document says.
In her complaint, filed in the Southern District of Florida, Taylor accuses Brown of sexual battery, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and invasion of privacy.
Through his attorney, Brown says he thinks Taylor is after his money after he refused to invest in her business project.
The lawsuit says Taylor, a former gymnast, and Brown met in 2010 when they were paired as Bible study partners at the Central Michigan University chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They remained in touch after he went to the NFL’s Pittsburgh Steelers and she transferred to Louisiana State University where she continued to compete in NCAA gymnastics.
They remained in touch after he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers and she transferred to Louisiana State University, where she continued to compete in NCAA gymnastics.
Taylor says Brown reached out to her on social media around 2013 to ask for photos of her. When she sent a photo of her face, the lawsuit states, he asked for something more revealing and she refused. Four years later, he contacted her again, she says in the lawsuit, and learned that she had a gymnastics studio. He indicated he wanted her to train him to improve his flexibility and improve his ankle strength, the suit says.
Four years later, he contacted her again, she says in the lawsuit, and learned that she had a gymnastics studio. He indicated he wanted her to train him to improve his flexibility and ankle strength, the suit says.
Taylor says in the lawsuit that she had no interest in Brown when he made sexual advances during trips for training in 2017. Only after an apology and assurances that he would treat her differently did she return to training him the next year, the lawsuit states.
Only after an apology and assurances that he would treat her differently did she return to training him the next year, the lawsuit states.
Brown, a father of five, is in his 10th NFL season and is a four-time first-team All-Pro.
CNN’s Carma Hassan, Tina Burnside, Jill Martin and Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.