Los Angeles (AFP) - 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 Britney Taylor 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," Taylor 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 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, Taylor 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 Taylor in 2017, saying he needed her to help him improve his flexibility.
However according to the lawsuit, Brown twice sexually assaulted Taylor during training sessions in June 2017. He later bragged about one of the incidents in profane messages included in the lawsuit.
Taylor terminated her professional relationship following the incidents but several months later agreed to work with him again after he apologised.
"Brown reached out to Ms. Taylor, expressing contrition, begging forgiveness and pleading with her to train him again," the lawsuit reads.
"Ms. Taylor was hesitant but eventually agreed, swayed by his assurance that he would cease any sexual advances."
The assurance was false, the lawsuit stated. On May 20, 2018, Brown forced Taylor face down onto a bed and raped her.
"She tried to resist him," screaming and repeatedly shouting "no" and "stop", the lawsuit says. "Brown refused and penetrated her," the suit adds.
The lawsuit did not state whether Taylor had taken her accusations to law enforcement. Taylor said in her statement however she would cooperate with the NFL and other agencies.
However it stated Taylor had passed a polygraph conducted by a former FBI employee relating to the allegations in her lawsuit.