Los Angeles: New England Patriots receiver Antonio Brown was rocked by fresh controversy on Tuesday after being accused of raping his former fitness trainer in a federal lawsuit filed in Florida.
Brown, who signed for the Super Bowl-champion Patriots after being released by the Oakland Raiders on Saturday, was accused of sexually assaulting 28-year-old former trainer in three separate incidents in 2017 and 2018.
"As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision," the accuser (name withheld) said in a statement released through her attorneys.
"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."
Brown later denied wrongdoing in a letter issued through his attorney, claiming that sexual relations between the two had been consensual. "Mr Brown denies all of the accuser's (name withheld) allegations," the statement said. "Any sexual interaction with Mr Brown was entirely consensual."
The Patriots issued a statement Tuesday night saying they had already been contacted by the league. "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 circumstances does this organization condone sexual violence or assault. The league informed us that they will be investigating. We will have no further comment while that investigation takes place."
In the lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Florida, the accuser (name withheld) alleges that she had first met Brown in 2010 when they attended a bible study class at Central Michigan college together. The NFL star later hired the accuser (name withheld) in 2017, saying he needed her to help him improve his flexibility.
However according to the lawsuit, Brown twice sexually assaulted accuser (name withheld) during training sessions in June 2017. He later bragged about one of the incidents in profane messages included in the lawsuit.
The accuser (name withheld) terminated her professional relationship following the incidents but several months later agreed to work with him again after he apologised.
"Brown reached out to the accuser (name withheld), expressing contrition, begging forgiveness and pleading with her to train him again," the lawsuit reads. "The accuser (name withheld)was hesitant but eventually agreed, swayed by his assurance that he would cease any sexual advances."
The lawsuit did not state whether Taylor had taken her accusations to law enforcement. The accuser (name withheld) said in her statement however she would cooperate with the NFL and other agencies. However, it stated accuser (name withheld) had passed a polygraph conducted by a former FBI employee relating to the allegations in her lawsuit.