NFL star Antonio Brown, a Nike-backed athlete, was accused of sexual misconduct and rape in a civil suit filed yesterday in the United States District Court’s Southern District of Florida.
The suit was brought by Britney Taylor, Brown’s former trainer and classmate at Central Michigan University. They met in 2010, when they were paired as Bible study partners in Central Michigan’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes. (Taylor was a gymnast at the university, while Brown was a wide receiver on the school’s football team.)
According to the filing, the pair fell out of touch for a number of years until they reconnected via Facebook in June 2017. Taylor alleges that the first incident of sexual misconduct began that month, when the then-Pittsburgh Steeler allegedly exposed himself and kissed her without consent. After multiple alleged incidents of misconduct, Taylor said she cut off contact with Brown that month when he purportedly “demeaned her in repeated text messages.” (Alleged screenshots of their conversation are included in the suit.)
Brown resumed contact with Taylor in February 2018, according to the filing, and asked her to resume training with him. Taylor alleges she returned to working for him in April 2018 and claims that the previous alleged misconduct escalated to rape in May 2018.
Taylor says the alleged rape led to “near-daily panic attacks, frequent suicidal ideations, and insomnia,” along with stress and weight loss. She is seeking monetary damages for alleged emotional and physical suffering, as well as an award of punitive damages “sufficient to deter [Brown] from engaging in future illegal and/or wrongful conduct.”
In a statement made via his lawyer, Darren Heitner, Brown denied all accusations made in the suit.
“Mr. Brown denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit,” wrote Heitner. “He will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name, but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations.”
“Antonio Brown will leave no stone unturned and will aggressively defend himself, including exercising all of his rights in countersuits,” Heitner added.
It’s unclear how the accusations will impact Brown’s sponsorship deals. The football player has parlayed his fame into a number of lucrative contracts with brands like Pepsi, Rite Aid, Campbell’s Soup and Pizza Hut.
In the suit, Taylor alleges that Brown was “having trouble balancing the responsibilities he had arising out of his many endorsement deals” when they reunited in April 2018.
“He showed up late to events he was required to attend for those sponsors or otherwise failed to hold up his contractual obligations,” the filing reads.
Brown is in his 10th season in the NFL. After being released from the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, he inked a deal with the New England Patriots, signing a one-year contract reportedly worth $15 million, with a $9 million signing bonus.
According to the Washington Post, the NFL is considering placing Brown on paid leave via the commissioner’s exempt list. Barring action by the league, he will be eligible to play Sunday in the Patriots’ 1 p.m. ET game vs. the Miami Dolphins.
FN has reached out to Nike for comment.
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