Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has been accused of sexual assault and rape by his former trainer, the New York Timesreported on Tuesday.
According a federal lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Florida on Tuesday, Brown allegedly sexually assaulted and raped a woman named Britney Taylor, a gymnast Brown met while attending Central Michigan together. He later hired her as his trainer.
"As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision. I have found strength in my faith, my family, and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault," Taylor said in a statement released by her lawyer. "Speaking out removes the shame that I have felt for the past year and places it on the person responsible for my rape. I will cooperate with the NFL and any other agencies; however, at this time, I respectfully request that the media please respect my privacy.”
The lawsuit says Brown sexually assaulted Taylor twice during training sessions in June 2017, exposing himself and kissing her without consent in the first incident. Later that month, Brown "began masturbating near her without her knowledge and ejaculated on her back" and then bragged about the incident in profane emails attached to the lawsuit.
Taylor ended her working relationship with Brown following the alleged assault only to relent several months later after he contacted her to apologize and assured her he would "cease any sexual advances."
On May 20, 2018, the lawsuit claims Brown "forced her down onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress, and forcibly raped her." Taylor tried to resist him, according to the lawsuit, screaming and shouting "no" and "stop" repeatedly. Brown allegedly refused.
According to a statement issued by Brown's attorney, Darren Heitner, Brown "denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit." Heitner claims Brown was asked by Taylor to invest $1.6 million in her business project, which he refused after learning that she had been "levied with a $30,000 IRX tax lien." Taylor then allegedly cut off communications after her request was denied before helping Brown train in 2018 for the upcoming season.
Brown alleges that he and Taylor were engaged in a "consensual personal relationship," and that any sexual interaction was "entirely consensual."
"Mr. Brown, whose hard work and dedication to his craft has allowed him to rise to the top of his profession, refuses to be the victim of what he believes to be a money grab," Heitner said in the statement.
Brown intends to "aggressively defend himself," per Heitner and will countersue Taylor for civil extortion, ESPN's Josina Anderson reported.
After a tumultuous offseason in Oakland, Brown, 31, was released by the Raiders on Saturday morning after a series of incidents. The four-time All-Pro previously asked for his release after the Raiders voided $29.125 million in contract guarantees due to conduct detrimental to the team. Brown signed with the Patriots later that day.
"We are aware of the civil lawsuit that was filed earlier today against Antonio Brown, as well as the response by Antonio's representatives," the Patriots said in a statement on Tuesday. "We take these allegations very seriously. Under no circumstance does this organization condone sexual violence or assault. The league has informed us that they will be investigating."
The Patriots added that there will be no further comments on the incident until the NFL's investigation has concluded.