Britney Taylor is a former trainer for New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown who has accused him of rape. In a federal lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Florida, Taylor names three incidents in which she says Brown sexually assaulted her and forced sexual intercourse.
You can read the full lawsuit complaint here. Brown’s attorneys have denied all the accusations and say they will do everything they can to clear his name. Taylor met with NFL investigators for 10 hours on Monday, September 16, Pro Football Talk reports.
Taylor’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit that Brown exposed himself to the 28-year-old Taylor during two separate training sessions in 2017, before raping her in 2018. During the first instance with Brown, she claims he exposed himself and kissed her without permission. A month later, Taylor claims that she was at Brown’s home watching TV when the All-Pro athlete started masturbating and ejaculated on her back, which he later bragged about via text messages.
According to the lawsuit, Taylor was “shocked and deeply embarrassed by this assault and his degrading messages,” and “cut off her working relationship with Brown.” However, after Brown apologized and begged for her forgiveness, she was “swayed by his assurance that he would cease any sexual advances.” On May 20, 2018, Taylor detailed the evening in which Brown forced her down onto a bed and “forcibly raped her.” While she “shouted ‘no’ and ‘stop,’ Brown refused and penetrated her.”
Taylor is a former gymnast who competed collegiately at Central Michigan University, where Brown played college football, and at Louisiana State University. She now owns a gym where she trains young gymnasts in Tennessee.
Taylor said in a statement, “I am a rape victim of Antonio Brown.”
The New England Patriots said in a statement, “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 they will be investigating. We will have no further comment while that investigation takes place.”
Sources told NFL.com that neither the Patriots nor the NFL knew about the upcoming lawsuit. Ian Rapoport reports that if Patriots owner Robert Kraft had known, he wouldn’t have signed off on the deal to sign Brown as a free agent following his release by the Oakland Raiders. NFL Commissioner Robert Goodell chose to not place Brown on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, which he is allowed to do under the NFL’s personal conduct policy. Brown is required by that policy to cooperate with the investigation.
On September 20, amid more accusations against Brown brought in a Sports Illustrated article and allegations that he sent intimidating texts to a second woman who accused him of sexual misconduct, Brown was released by the Patriots. Taylor’s attorneys said they had no comment about his release.
Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, tweeted, “It’s unfortunate things didn’t work out with the Patriots. But Antonio is healthy and is looking forward to his next opportunity in the NFL. He wants to play the game he loves and he hopes to play for another team soon.”
There is no known criminal investigation ongoing into the accusations made by Taylor. The NFL’s investigation into Brown will continue, despite his release by New England.
Here’s what you need to know about Britney Taylor:
1. Taylor Says ‘Speaking Out Removes the Shame That I Have Felt for the Past Year & Places It on the Person Responsible for My Rape’
Taylor released the following statement through her attorneys, “As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision. I have found strength in my faith, my family, and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault. Speaking out removes the shame that I have felt for the past year and places it on the person responsible for my rape. I will cooperate with the NFL and any other agencies; however, at this time, I respectfully request that the media please respect my privacy.”
She is represented by Florida-based attorney David Haas, New York attorney Jonathan Abady and Florida attorney Marshelle Brooks.
Taylor accuses Brown of sexual battery (rape), battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment and invasion of privacy. She is seeking damages and compensation for “all non-monetary and compensatory harm, including, but not limited to, compensation for her physical injuries, pain and suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, stress and anxiety, loss of self- esteem and self-confidence, and emotional pain and suffering.”
The lawsuit was filed in southern Florida, where Brown lives.
Taylor has known Brown since college, according to the lawsuit. They met through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes group while they were both at Central Michigan, and she was paired with Brown as her bible study partner during the first meeting she attended. According to her attorneys, the two stayed in touch as Brown made it to the NFL and became a star wide receiver.
“In approximately 2013, Ms. Taylor’s senior year at LSU, Brown sent her a message on social media, asking for a picture of her. Ms. Taylor sent him a picture of her face. Dissatisfied, Brown asked for a more revealing one. Ms. Taylor refused, reminding Brown that they were just friends,” her attorneys wrote. “For approximately four years after Ms. Taylor graduated from LSU, the two fell out of touch. In June 2017, Brown reached out to Ms. Taylor via Facebook asking her how she was doing.”
Taylor’s attorneys say he asked her about the plans for a gym she was opening in Tennessee.
“During the course of this renewed contact, Brown indicated he wanted Ms. Taylor’s help improving flexibility and strength in his ankles and fast twitch muscles – areas in which she had developed expertise through gymnastics,” Taylor’s attorneys wrote. “As a result, the two agreed that Ms. Taylor would provide physical training services to Brown. The arrangement between them included Ms. Taylor flying to locations in Pittsburgh and Florida where Brown had homes and where he trained. Ms. Taylor never dated or had an interest in any romantic relationship with Brown. Their relationship, as far as Ms. Taylor believed and behaved, was that of a ‘brother-sister’ type.”
Taylor says the sexual assaults occurred in 2017 and 2018 while she was working for Brown.
Taylor’s attorneys say she sought guidance from her church after the alleged rape and a leader there was a former assistant district attorney and sex crimes prosecutor in New York. Her attorneys say the former prosecutor “recognized the signs of trauma” in Taylor and recommended she seek legal counsel.
“Since that time, Ms. Taylor has taken a polygraph examination. It was conducted by one of the nation’s leading examiners, who previously led the FBI’s polygraph program. Ms. Taylor had to relive the trauma of these events through this examination. The polygraph examination confirmed her completely truthful account that, in June 2017, Brown ejaculated on her without her consent and that, in May 2018, that Brown raped her,” her attorneys wrote.
2. Taylor Graduated From LSU, Where She Was a Star Gymnast, After Briefly Attending Central Michigan With Brown, Where They Met in Bible Study
Taylor met Brown while studying at Central Michigan University, where she minored in business, and was a student-athlete. During her two years there, between 2009 and 2011, she was the coach and choreographer at Storm Gymnastics.
Taylor, who started training in gymnastics when she was 3, offered 14 full college scholarships, went on to transfer to Louisiana State University. She was on the gymnastics team for the LSU Tigers and graduated in 2013 with a degree in sports administration and business management.
Taylor is a Memphis, Tennessee, native, and attended Ridgeway High School and was a gymnast for the River City Gymnastics club, according to her profile on the LSU website. She was an all-around gymnast for the Tigers.
The Tigers website lists some of her many LSU accomplishments, “outstanding competitor who only got stronger as her final season progressed … Led the team with a 9.90 on beam in the NCAA Super Six Finals (4/20), marking the third-best beam score at the NCAA Championships in LSU history … Narrowly missed All-SEC honors on beam after she scored a career-high 9.925 at the SEC Championship (3/23) … Saw action on vault, beam and floor during the season, competing eight times on vault, seven times on beam and three on floor … Shattered her career highs on vault, beam and floor by posting a 9.925 on vault at Auburn (2/22), a 9.925 on beam at the SEC Championship and a 9.85 on floor at Auburn and at North Carolina State (3/15).”
She was also a top athlete at Central Michigan, earning second-team all-conference honors in the Mid-American Conference in 2011 and was the freshman of the year for the MAC in 2010, before deciding to transfer to LSU.
“Taylor started gymnastics when she was only three years old and soon became ecognized as an athlete with exceptional abilities, discipline and dedication. In high school, she trained twice a day for a total of 40 hours per week, in addition to her course work. She reached ‘Elite’ level, meaning she was eligible to compete for international competitions like the Olympics,” her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. “She succeeded in the sport even though she often worked with unsupportive and verbally abusive coaches and was almost always the lone African-American gymnast on her team and at meets.”
3. Taylor Lives in Memphis & Trains Young Gymnasts at Her Own Gym
According to the Britney’s LinkedIn profile, Taylor has long been involved and working in the gymnastics community. Aside from a two year stint as an assistant manager at Republic Finance while living in Gonzales, Louisiana, she returned to athletics as a home school head coach for Conxion Gymnastics.
Now, Taylor trains young gymnasts at Taylor’Ed Gymnastics, a studio which she owns in Memphis. She will be inducted into the inaugural Tennessee Gymnastics Hall of Fame this coming year.
In the lawsuit against Brown, Taylor states that the trauma has made it extremely difficult for her to maintain her responsibilities at her gym. “She knows that she is a role model for the 50 young girls that she trains. She knows that that they rely on her and that they look up to her. But since this the rape, she has substantial difficulty even going to work.”
Her attorneys wrote in the lawsuit that Brown, “comes from a highly religious and close-knit family.”
According to the lawsuit, “Taylor pursued her lifelong dream of opening a gymnastics training center for predominantly African-American girls in her hometown of Memphis. She wanted to create a safe and supportive environment for young girls of color to thrive in the sport of gymnastics – something that was often missing for her when she was a young girl.”
Her attorneys added, “Taylor opened her training center in 2016. Her business grew quickly because of her knowledge of gymnastics and her devotion to her students. She even covered the cost of tuition for several students whose families were unable to afford it. After less than a year, she was training approximately 50 students and had another 200 students on her waiting list.”
4. Taylor Says the Alleged Rape Damaged Her Relationship With Her Fiance, Whom She Married on September 15
After news of her lawsuit became public, it appears the 28-year-old deleted her Instagram and Facebook pages. Perhaps, anticipating the amount of publicity her case would bring considering Brown is an incredibly high-profile athlete on the national stage, this may be her way of protecting herself, and those close to her, including mother Bridget Taylor.
Her now-deleted Instagram profile included a line in her bio indicating she has been engaged since May 2018. ESPN’s Adam Schefer reports that Taylor was getting married the weekend of September 14 ahead of her meeting with NFL investigators.
Taylor states in the lawsuit that the assault has already had a profound and negative impact on her personal life.
Her attorneys wrote, “Her long-term boyfriend, whom she had been dating on and off ever since high school, proposed to her less than two weeks after she was raped by Brown. What should have been one of the most exciting times in her life has been completely derailed and complicated. It took her months to tell her fiancé what occurred, and that disclosure put a serious strain on their relationship.”
According to the lawsuit, Taylor’s attorneys also say she feared Brown could have given her a sexually transmitted disease or gotten her pregnant.
“For months after the rape, Ms. Taylor did her best to put what happened out of her mind. As is typical with many victims of rape, she made attempts to live her life as if nothing happened,” the lawsuit states. Her attorneys say that was “unsustainable,” and she suffered from anxiety and became deeply depressed, dealing with panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and insomnia.
“It has been extremely difficult for her to process that Brown could betray and violate her so completely. Brown devastated her sense of self, made her question her worth as a woman and human being, and caused her to question whom she could trust,” her attorneys wrote.
Taylor and Kristin Owens, longtime boyfriend, now husband, were married on September 15, a day before she met with NFL investigators. Owens is a former football player for the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. They were married in Taylor’s hometown of Memphis.
5. Brown Rejected a $2 Million Settlment Offer From Taylor’s Attorneys After Months of Negotiations, NFL.com Reports
According to a report from NFL.com, attorneys representing Antonio Brown and Britney Taylor have been engaged in confidential settlement negotiations for months before the lawsuit was filed. The talks were confidential. ESPN reports that Taylor’s attorneys offered Brown a $2 million settlement agreement, but he rejected it.
“Brown had a deadline last Sunday night to sign the settlement agreement before Taylor’s attorneys sought to file their civil lawsuit against him. After Brown didn’t sign off on the settlement, the suit was filed Tuesday,” ESPN wrote. “Settlement discussions began as early as April and included two mediations, one of which occurred in May, sources familiar with the talks told (Jeff) Darlington.”
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport also revealed that another NFL player was in Brown’s house when Taylor says Brown raped her. That player, Baltimore Ravens rookie wide receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, is Antonio’s cousin and is not accused of any wrongdoing.
“Either way, this week should be telling. Taylor, who was to get married this weekend, will speak to the league soon. That won’t be all,” Rapoport wrote. “There was another football player, a rookie, who was in the house when Taylor alleges an incident took place, the lawsuit says. Per the rules, that person will also be compelled to meet with investigators. There may also be additional evidence from both sides not yet made public. In other words, Brown plays today, but this is merely the beginning.”
In the lawsuit, Taylor’s attorneys say the first sexual assault occurred on a training trip in 2017:
During a training trip in early June 2017, Ms. 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. She was 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. Brown then grabbed and kissed her without her consent. Ms. Taylor pushed him away and immediately left the room.
Brown’s actions made Ms. Taylor extremely uncomfortable. 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.
Taylor’s attorneys say in late June 2017, Brown and Taylor were watching a church service together on her iPad at his home in Miami when the second incident occurred:
As they had during their college Christian fellowship days, they often read scriptures, prayed or watched services together during training visits. On this occasion, 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, Ms. Taylor felt a wet spot on her back and then suddenly realized what had happened. Thoroughly disgusted, Ms. Taylor exclaimed, ‘Ewww!’ Brown, unfazed by her reaction, jokingly responded, ‘oh B… you know, I’m sorry’ and then left the room. Ms. Taylor was dismayed, confused and embarrassed. She called her mother, who advised her to immediately leave.
She also confided in Brown’s chef, whom she had befriended, about what happened and stated that she would not be returning to work for Brown. Shortly thereafter, she received a text message from Brown telling her she was fired.
Taylor’s attorneys say in the lawsuit that Brown bragged in a text message about masturbating on her, saying he “jack [sic] [his] d*ck on [her] back.”
Taylor’s attorney says she cut off all contact with Brown after that incident. But in February 2018, she says Brown reached out to her again, “thanking her for help in the off-season and stating that he would love to continue working with her under the ‘right circumstance[s].’ He also mentioned that unlike many of the other people that surrounded him, she had ‘a great heart and . . . cared about him.’” Her attorneys say she didn’t respond.
In early March 2018, Brown texted her and asked if she hated him. According to the lawsuit he said,”‘I apologize first off with so much going on around me and my actions.’ He asked for her to train him again, assuring her that things would be different.”
Taylor said she agreed, but only if Brown agreed to stop flirting with her and provided her separate hotel accomodations when she came to train him. In April 2018, she began working with him during off-season weekends.
According to the lawsuit, the third incident, the alleged rape, occurred on May 20, 2018, when Brown invited Taylor and another football player who trained with them, who is not named in the lawsuit, to go out in Miami. After they returned to his house from a club, her attorneys say:
Ms. Taylor was planning to immediately drive to her hotel room but went into Brown’s home to use the restroom and grab some food from the kitchen. While Ms. Taylor was walking toward the front door, 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 Ms. 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.’ Ms. Taylor pleaded with him, shouting ‘no’ and ‘stop.’ But Brown refused and proceeded with great violence to penetrate her. Ms. Taylor protested and cried the entire time. When Brown finally released her, Ms. 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 on the ground. No one came to her rescue or to help her in any way. She was completely alone. Eventually she summoned the strength to pick herself off the floor, make it to the door, get into her car and drive — dazed and emotionally shattered—to her hotel. She was so exhausted that she fell asleep at a stoplight on the drive back.
According to her attorneys, Taylor went back to Brown’s house the next day to retrieve her belongings and they say she approached Brown to talk about what happened. She says he told her, “You made me feel like a real rapist.”
Brown’s attorney released the following statement on the NFL player’s behalf, in which he denies all of Taylor’s claims. Brown states that Taylor continued communications with Mr. Brown throughout 2018, asked for NFL tickets, and has continually posted photographs of Mr. Brown on her social media in an effort to financially benefit from his celebrity.
“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. Mr. Brown was approached by his accuser in 2017, shortly after Mr. Brown signed a contract making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL.”
“At that time, Mr. Brown was asked to invest $1.6 million in the accuser’s business project. Mr. Brown was not informed by his accuser that she had just been levied with a $30K IRS tax lien or that $300K of the $1.6 million so called “investment” was to be used to purchase property already owned by the accuser and her mother.”
“When Mr. Brown refused to make the $1.6 million “investment,” the accuser supposedly cut off communications with Brown. However, in 2018, the accuser resurfaced and offered to travel to Pennsylvania and South Florida to train Mr. Brown for the upcoming season.”
“Thereafter, the accused engaged Mr. Brown in a consensual personal relationship. Any sexual interaction with Mr. Brown was entirely consensual. The accuser not only traveled to Mr. Brown’s residences on multiple occasions, she traveled to Tennessee to Florida and returned at 2 a.m. to Mr. Brown’s residence ten days after the alleged assault.”
According to ESPN’s Josina Anderson, Brown plans to countersue Taylor for civil extortion. Taylor’s attorneys have not responded to Brown’s statement.