When Antonio Brown was attending Central Michigan University, he met a gymnast who would, years later, become his personal trainer as he worked to improve his football skills.  However, that relationship has taken an ugly turn as the gymnast, Britney Taylor, filed a federal lawsuit in Florida against Brown, accusing him of raping and sexually assaulting her on three different occasions while they were involved in the training program.  Brown has denied the accusations, but the suit could still put his newly-signed contract with the New England Patriots in jeopardy.

According to the lawsuit, Brown is said to have sexually assaulted Taylor twice in June 2017 and raped her in May of last year.  It isn’t known if Taylor ever reported the incidents to police, and the separation of time between the reported incidents is certainly enough to raise doubts over the authenticity of the accusations.

Taylor contends that the first incident was relatively harmless in comparison to the next two – Brown had exposed himself and kissed her without permission.  The second incident, however, was far more aggressive and disturbing, with Brown allegedly masturbating in her presence and ejaculating on her back.  After that encounter, Taylor brought the working relationship to a halt, but returned to work for him when Brown called her the following May to apologize.  She asserts that she was “swayed by his assurance that he would cease any sexual advances.”

Instead of apologizing, though, Taylor states that Brown forced her onto a bed and forcibly raped her.  She asserts that she tried to get him to stop, but he refused and ultimately succeeded in raping her.

Brown asserts that none of the accusations are true His lawyer, Darren Heitner, released a statement that said, in part, “Mr. Brown denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit.  He will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations.”

Brown asserts that there was at least one act of consensual sex and Heitner adds that “any sexual interaction with Mr. Brown was entirely consensual.”  The lawsuit, they argue, is motivated by money.

Professing his innocence isn’t enough to keep Brown out of trouble.  The NFL can take action based solely on the accusation, including a suspension or permanent ban from the league.  There has been no formal response from the league yet on the subject, but there is definitely some internal discussion taking place.  Rumor has it that the NFL is considering putting Brown on its Restricted list while an investigation is taking place, and the player’s fate could be decided as early as this weekend.

The Pats, on the other hand, have spoken out.  The team released a statement yesterday, saying, “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.  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.”

Brown spent nine years with the Pittsburgh Steelers before spending just a year with the Oakland Raiders.  During his time with the Steelers, he visited the Pro Bowl seven times and made the All-Pro first team four times.  He earned eight touchdowns and picked up 1,200 yards in six consecutive seasons, and has a record 104 catches and 15 touchdowns.  His time with the Raiders was much less impressive, spending almost all of it riding the bench before being sent off to the Pats.