The New England Patriots picked up more than just a wide-receiver on Saturday. Signing Antonio Brown on Sunday also comes with legal trouble as the Patriots wide-receiver was served Tuesday with a federal, civil lawsuit accusing him of raping his former trainer while playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Strange Behavior of Antonio Brown These Past Few Months
Upon his demand and insistence, Antonio Brown was released by the Oakland Raiders Saturday morning after a series of strange behavioral patterns over the course of the past month:
- Suffering frostbite after failing to wear proper footwear during cryotherapy;
- Pursuing two grievances over a helmet policy to which his union negotiated for players’ safety;
- Arguing with Oakland Raiders general manager, Mike Mayock and posting a photo of a letter he received about his fines to Instagram;
- Recording a phone conversation with his former coach, Jon Gruden, and posting the recording to YouTube; and
- Demanding that he be released by the Raiders, which was granted Saturday morning; and
- Within a matter of hours, signing with the New England Patriots.
Now, he’s being accused of something far more heinous—being a rapist.
On Tuesday, Britney Taylor, a 28-year-old, world-class gymnast sued Antonio Brown, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleging that Brown sexually assaulted her on two occasions in June 2017 and one occasion in May 2018.
Taylor, who resides in Memphis, asserted in the lawsuit that she first met Brown back in 2010 when they were both students at Central Michigan.
The Charges Against Antonio Brown
According to the lawsuit, Taylor, by and through counsel, alleges the following charges against Antonio Brown:
- Sexual Battery (Rape)
- Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)
- False Imprisonment, and
- Invasion of Privacy
Taylor by and through her counsel, demands a jury trial to hear her three claims for sexual battery, battery, and IIED, along with an amount for at least $75,000, meeting the jurisdictional requirements under 29 U.S.C. §1332.
Grit Daily has obtained and reviewed a copy of the federal court documents as part of the lawsuit, and will continue to follow Antonio Brown and this lawsuit as more developments are unraveled.
The following is a narrative taken from the complaint that was authored by Taylor’s group of attorneys, including David Haas of Haas Law in Orange, Florida.
Former Classmates at Central Michigan University
Antonio Brown and Britney Taylor met at Central Michigan University back in 2010, when Taylor was a freshman. Taylor joined the college’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes group, where she met Brown at the bible study’s first meeting. Brown, already well-known on campus and the football team’s star wide-receiver, went on to play in the NFL, while Taylor transferred to Louisiana State University (LSU). However, they remained in touch.
Sometime in 2013, Taylor’s senior year at LSU, Brown allegedly sent her a message on social media, asking for a picture of her, to which Taylor sent him back a picture of her face. Brown was “dissatisfied” with the picture and asked for a more revealing image. Refusing, Taylor reminded Brown that they were just friends.
The two fell out of touch for “approximately four years,” during which Ms. Taylor went on to pursue her dream as a world-class gymnast, becoming successful in her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.
The Facebook Messsage
Four years later, Brown reached back out to Taylor through a Facebook message, asking her how she was doing, to which she updated him and shared her news of recently opening a training center in Memphis, attracting many clients, tailored to African-American girls in her hometown. She opened her training center in 2016 with approximately 200 students on her waiting list, on top of the 50 students she was already training.
As Taylor recalled, Brown asked her for her help in him improving his flexibility and strength in his ankles and fast-twitch muscles, an area in which she had developed expertise through gymnastics. That’s when their “training relationship” began. However, Taylor described their relationship as a ‘brother-sister’ type, having never dates nor had any interest in any romantic relationship with Brown.
But, as Taylor goes on to share, Brown had other plans. The arrangement between them included Taylor flying to locations in Pittsburgh and Florida where Brown had homes and where he trained.
Incident #1: “First Exposure”
During a training trip in early June 2017, Taylor was in one of Brown’s homes in the Pittsburgh area, where she was staying because he had not booked her a hotel room as previously agreed. She recalled getting dressed in an upstairs bathroom when Brown walked in with his penis exposed. She immediately covered her eyes with her hands and walked out of the bathroom.
The complaint goes on to add that Brown then grabbed and kissed Taylor without her consent, where she had to push Brown away, immediately leaving the room.
“Brown’s actions made Ms. Taylor extremely uncomfortable,” the complaint states. “She was in a long-term and serious relationship with another man and had no interest in a sexual relationship with Brown. But, because her professional relationship with Brown was important and because she took it seriously, Ms. Taylor willed herself to brush off the episode, hoping that Brown would stop pursuing her.”
Incident #2: “The Ejaculation”
The second incident, according to the lawsuit, took place in late June 2017, during another training visit. Brown and Taylor were watching a church service on Taylor’s iPad in Brown’s home in Miami, Florida. As they had during their college Christian fellowship days, they often read scriptures, prayed or watched services together during training visits, the lawsuit says.
At this point in time, the complaint alleges that “Brown was behind Ms. Taylor as they watched the service on her tablet. Unbeknownst to Ms. Taylor, while she was focused on the religious video, Brown began masturbating behind her. Before she knew it or understood what was happening, Brown ejaculated on her.”
Specifically, Taylor “felt a wet spot on her back and then suddenly realized what had happened.” Thoroughly disgusted, Taylor exclaimed, “Ewww!” Brown, unfazed by her reaction, jokingly responded, “oh ‘B’…you know, I’m sorry” and then left the room.
The lawsuit also mentions that Brown bragged in a preserved text message and email about masturbating on her, stating that he “jack[sic] [his] dick on [her] back” and that he was “going to laugh with one of their mutual friends from college about it.”
Taylor cut of all contact with Brown after maintaining that he terrorized her. However, the silence period ended in February 2018, where Taylor said that Brown eventually convinced her to see him again.
According to Taylor, she received a text message from Brown “thanking her for her help in the off-season and stating he would love to continue working with her under the ‘right circumstance[s.],'” but she never responded.
She received another text message in early March 2018, where Brown asked her for a second chance in training him, “assuring her that things would be different.”
Agreeing to this, Ms. Taylor returned to working during off-season weekends for Mr. Brown, under certain conditions that Mr. Brown “stop flirting with her” and that “he provide her with hotel accommodations for each trip.”
Incident #3: “The Rape”
On or about May 20, 2018, Brown invited Taylor, another football player who trained with them, unnamed in the complaint, and a few friends for a night out in Miami. They traveled to a club in Miami in a car rented by Taylor. After spending time at the club, she drove Brown and the other football player back to Brown’s home, where the other football player was staying.
Taylor indicated her immediate intention to drop them off, but she had to use the restroom and grab some food from the kitchen. When Taylor went to leave, Brown grabbed her arm, told her he wanted to talk to her, and pulled her into his bedroom.
They chatted for a few minutes, and when Taylor went to walk out of the room, Brown cornered her and pulled her down on the bed on her stomach, pushing her face down into the mattress.
She attempted to physically, resist, but he pinned her down so that she was unable to fight back. As she struggled, he lifted her dress and told her, “you know you want this.”
Taylor pleaded with him, shouting “no” and “stop.” But Brown refused and proceeded with great violence to penetrate her. Taylor protested and cried the entire time.
When Brown finally released her, Taylor stood up in a state of trauma and shock, crying in front of him. Devastated and disoriented, she ran into his foyer and collapsed onto the ground. She recalled that nobody came to her rescue or to help her in anyway.
It is unclear from the complaint on the whereabouts of the other football player, what he was doing at the time, and/or if he heard Taylor’s alleged screams.
Eventually, she found the strength to leave and drive off. She returned to Brown’s home the following day to pick up her personal belongings. As Taylor remembered it, she said that Brown told her that she “made him feel like a rapist.” She then flew back home to Memphis.
Filing the Lawsuit
In the days after the rape, Taylor feared she could have become pregnant or could have contracted a sexually transmitted disease (“STD”) from Brown. On June 13, 2018 and July 1, 2018, she purchased a home pregnancy test and an STD test kit from Walgreens.
After several months of attempting to live her life as if nothing happened, the shock, disbelief and denial gave way to overwhelming bouts of anxiety, and Taylor fell into a deep depression. She had “near-daily panic attacks, frequent suicidal ideations, and insomnia.” She also recalled that she lost almost 30 pounds in one month, due to stress.
On January 6, 2019, before seeking legal counsel, Taylor reached out to #TimesUpNow about the rape. The lawsuit states that she does not know if her message was ever received by the organization, as she described the rape without naming Brown.
What To Expect
Obviously, this new announcement is another item to add to Brown’s growing list of problems, however, this was new to the public.
Sports Illustrated’s legal analyst, Michael McCann breaks down what he thinks will happen in response to Taylor’s filed lawsuit:
(1) Brown will answer the complaint and potentially countersue Taylor
On Tuesday, Brown’s attorney, Darren Heitner, issued a statement through Twitter, that his client “denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit,” depicting Taylor as the culprit, as she was the one who sought Brown’s attention in 2017 with a request that he invest $1.6 million in her business project. Heitner went on to state that after Brown declined to invest the $1.6 million, Taylor “cut off” communication,” but came back a year later offering to travel to Brown to help him train for the season.
(2) The potential counter-suit would not be “defamation”
In a subsequent tweet by Heitner, he indicated that Brown would be exploring a counter-suit against Taylor, but not for defamation. Instead, it would appear to be along the lines of a “tortious interference with contractual relations” claim since Brown could argue Taylor is attempting to interfere with his NFL career and new relationship with the Patriots.
(3) If no settlement is reached, pre-trial discovery will begin
As of today, there has been no indication of any settlement negotiations between Taylor and Brown. Usually, a demand letter is sent offering the defendant, in this case, Brown, an opportunity to offer a settlement.
According to McCann, if the litigation does not settle, and assuming the case is not dismissed, it will enter a stage of pre-trial discovery, where both Brown and Taylor would be required to answer questions under oath, either in depositions (in-person answers) or interrogatories (written answers).
As Taylor provided preserved text messages from Brown included in her complaint, it’s currently unclear whether Brown may also have similar messages or emails that corroborate his defense.
(4) This is a civil lawsuit, not criminal…as of now
The lawsuit in its current form is entirely civil, with no indication that Taylor ever approached law enforcement. The complaint, however, could lead the Miami Police Department to investigate, particularly if pre-trial discovery reveals evidence and testimony that would corroborate Taylor’s account.
The alleged rape took place last year, which falls within Florida’s statute of limitations (time-frame) for a sexual assault claim to be brought. The crime of sexual battery alone, in the Florida carries a potential 30-year prison sentence.
(5) The Patriots Will Be Lying in Wait
As the general public knows, the NFL takes these types of allegations very seriously. There’s no question that both the NFL and the Patriots will take the rape accusation as a serious matter, but understanding that neither really has much more information available to them other than the lawsuit and the allegations.
As of now, the fact the lawsuit is civil, the burden of persuasion is much lower than that of a criminal charge.
Right now, the NFL and the Patriots will most likely lie-in-wait until more events and information unfolds.
In Heitner’s series of tweets on Tuesday, he tweeted that Brown “will leave no stone unturned and will aggressively defend himself, including all of his rights in counter-suits.”
Heitner went on to state that Mr. Brown “will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name, but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations.”
For more information on the lawsuit:
Case Number: 0:19cv62258, Britney Taylor v. Antonio Brown
Date Filed: 09/10/2019
Assigned To: Judge Rodney Smith
Cause: Diversity-Personal Injury