Report: Patriots 'caught by surprise' by Antonio Brown rape accusation

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor

The New England Patriots were reportedly unaware that Antonio Brown was facing sexual assault and rape accusations when the team signed him last week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

With Brown’s signing announced and the star wideout scheduled to begin practice with the team on Wednesday, the Patriots are now deciding how to proceed.

The team released a statement late Tuesday night confirming it is aware of the lawsuit and that the NFL will be investigating the matter.

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One possibility for Brown mentioned by Schefter is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could place Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list while the league investigates the allegations. Such a move would give Brown his salary, but take him off the team’s active roster and forbid him from playing in games and practices.

The list has been used in the past to sideline Adrian Peterson, Kareem Hunt and Reuben Foster following their own personal scandals.

According to Schefter, the Patriots “were caught by surprise” in regards to the sexual assault allegations.

Antonio Brown might have to wait longer than expected to make his Patriots debut. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Antonio Brown might have to wait longer than expected to make his Patriots debut. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

The Patriots agreed to terms with Brown on a one-year, $15 million deal last week after an hours-long free agency. Brown had previously forced his way out of the Raiders organization with an entire month of unhinged behavior, culminating in the team granting his request to be released.

The Patriots were likely bracing themselves to handle Brown and all of his behavior, but the allegations against the player might be a different story.

The allegations against Antonio Brown

Brown was accused of three instances of sexual assault between 2017 and 2018 by his former trainer Britney Taylor in a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday.

Taylor reportedly knew Brown from their time together at Central Michigan, where she was a gymnast while he was a football player. She alleges in her lawsuit Brown did the following:

  • Exposed himself to her and kiss her without her consent during a training visit in Pittsburgh in June 2017

  • Masturbated behind her while the two watched a church service on her iPad and ejaculated on her back in Miami, also in June 2017

  • Pushed her face-first into a mattress and forcibly raped her in Miami in May 2018 after she agreed to train him again with an assurance his sexual advances would stop

Included in Taylor’s lawsuit are screengrabs of Brown appearing to profanely brag about the second incident in an email.

Brown denied all allegations in a statement released by his lawyer, and reportedly plans to countersue Taylor for civil extortion.

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