Another day, another scandalous and/or absurd new revelation about former Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro wide receiver Antonio Brown. A day after officially signing a one-year contract with the New England Patriots with a one-year club option, it was revealed that he is facing a civil lawsuit that is accusing him of raping a woman who was training camp. Through his representatives, he maintains that the sexual relation was consensual and that this is a “money grab” on the woman’s part, who has attached her name to the suit.
28-year-old Tennessee native Britney Taylor is accusing Brown of multiple accounts of sexual assault between 2017 and 2018, filing the charges in Florida. She alleges that they had previously been in contact, but that he reached out to her in 2017 after a period of years of silence, seeking training assistance.
An article by Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated goes into more detail about the specific conduct Taylor is accusing Brown of displaying toward her without her consent, during a period of time in which he was still employed by the Steelers.
The most significant charge is an allegation of rape that occurred in May of 2018. If I’m not mistaken, this incident took place while OTAs were going on, and Brown was not in attendance but rather back in Florida. The alleged rape occurred in Brown’s residence after a night out partying. After returning to his home a day later to pick up belongings, she alleges that he told her she “made him feel like a rapist”.
Brown’s representatives maintain that they intend to use every measure possible to fight the charges, going so far as to say that they will countersue, which according to experts on the matter appears to be a risky proposition, as it opens the door for additional pre-trial discovery, over the course of which some sordid details would likely be revealed.
The Patriots last night released a statement that was largely boilerplate, stating that “we are aware of the civil lawsuit that was filed earlier today against Antonio Brown, as well as the response by Antonio’s representatives”.
Statement from the Patriots. League has informed them that an investigation will take place. pic.twitter.com/TRqvb43lLc
— Kevin Duffy (@KevinRDuffy) September 11, 2019
At the end of the statement, however, it also reads that the NFL “has informed us that they will be investigating”, and it has also been said elsewhere that Taylor intends to comply fully with any investigation that takes place.
While Taylor doesn’t appear to have ever gone to the authorities or files for criminal charges against Brown, the league is not beholden to the law with respect to what measures they can take to discipline a player for conduct that is detrimental to the integrity of the shield.
It’s not clear what steps will be taken next, as this is clearly very much a developing story, but it wouldn’t be shocking if he soon winds up on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, as we have seen in other comparable player situations.