A former trainer has accused New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown of raping her, according to a federal civil lawsuit filed Tuesday in Florida. Brown, through his legal team, has denied the allegations. Here’s what we know:
■ The complaint says that Brown “exploited, sexually assaulted, and raped,” Britney Taylor, his former trainer. “Brown preyed on Ms. Taylor’s kindness and her religious devotion, casting himself as a person equally dedicated to his religious faith and someone she could trust. In reality, he used manipulation and false promises to lure her into his world, and once there, he sexually assaulted and raped her.”
■ Darren Heitner, a lawyer representing Brown, issued a statement Tuesday denying the allegations. “He will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name, but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations.” According to Heitner, Taylor approached Brown in 2017, shortly after he signed a contract making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Brown was asked to make a $1.6 million investment in a “business project” of Taylor’s. When Brown refused to make the investment “the accuser supposedly cut off communications with” him, according to his attorney. In 2018, Taylor “resurfaced and offered to travel to Pennsylvania and South Florida to train Mr. Brown for the upcoming season,” said Heitner. He added, “Thereafter, the accuser engaged Mr. Brown in a consensual personal relationship. Any sexual interaction with Mr. Brown was entirely consensual.”
■According to the suit, on May 20, 2018, Brown “cornered Ms. Taylor, forced her down onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress and forcibly raped her.” Taylor tried to resist “but Brown was too strong and physically overpowered her. She screamed and cried and repeatedly shouted “no” and “stop,” the complaint said.
■ Two more sexual assaults are alleged to have occurred while Brown and Taylor were together for training sessions in June 2017, according to the legal complaint. The suit alleges Brown exposed himself and kissed Taylor without her consent during one of the sessions. Later that month, Brown allegedly started to masturbate near her without her knowledge while they were watching a church service on a tablet at his Miami home, and later bragged about it in a text message, the filing said. The suit alleges that Taylor broke off her working relationship with Brown after that. Several months later Brown reached out to Taylor, begging forgiveness and “pleading with her to train him again.” “Ms. Taylor was hesitant but eventually agreed, swayed by his assurance that he would cease any sexual advances,” read the complaint.
■ The complaint said Taylor returned to working during off-season weekends for Brown in April 2018. “His life, at this point, was in apparent chaos. Many of the people who worked with him previously had quit, including his chef and another trainer. They could no longer take Brown’s mistreatment and troubling behavior,” the complaint said. The suit goes on to say, “In wake of staff defections and the chaos surrounding him, Brown often relied on Ms. Taylor to take of his administrative needs when she was there with him on weekends. She was tasked with booking flights for him, keeping his travel schedule, making sure he arrived at sponsored events on time, and even baby-sitting his children.”
■The suit said Brown and Taylor know each other from their time at Central Michigan University. Taylor, “a world-class gymnast,” according to the suit, was paired with Brown as his bible study partner at one point. The two fell out of touch for about four years, during which time Taylor opened a gymnastics center “for predominantly African American girls” in her hometown of Memphis, Tenn., the filing said. In June 2017, Brown reached out to her via Facebook to ask how she was doing, Taylor responded by detailing the plans for her gym, according to her suit. At some point, Brown indicated he wanted Taylor’s help “improving flexibility and strength in his ankles and fast twitch muscles -- areas in which she had developed expertise through gymnastics.” The two agreed that Taylor would provide physical training services to Brown, according to the suit.
■The suit seeks “an award of damages to be determined at trial” to compensate Taylor for the physical injuries, pain and suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, loss of self-esteem and self confidence, and emotional pain and suffering. It also seeks punitive damages to deter Brown “from engaging in future illegal and/or wrongful conduct.”Danny McDonald can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.