Antonio Brown Sexual Assault Allegations: What We Know Right Now

Patriots Antonio Brown Lawsuit Football

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown is facing sexual assault allegations. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

ASSOCIATED PRESS

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown is facing sexual assault allegations stemming from three different alleged incidents spanning both 2017 and 2018.

The New York Times released information pertaining to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by Brown’s former trainer, Britney Taylor, claming that he assaulted her on three different occasions.

The allegations themselves are damning for the embattled receiver after his brief stint with the Oakland Raiders came to an abrupt end this past Saturday.

“According to the suit, Brown sexually assaulted Taylor twice during training sessions in June 2017. First, he exposed himself and kissed her without permission,” the report said. The third alleged incident in 2018 is even more disturbing. You can read it in The NY Times article linked above.

Brown’s lawyer, Darren Heitner, a former Forbes.com contributor, released a statement after the lawsuit was filed, categorically denying the allegations.

There are obvious legal and financial ramifications here. Let’s look through the plethora of implications in that regard.

Criminal Charges

Despite a report earlier on Wednesday that Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala and his office were set to look into the allegations, the DA pushed back against that in a statement later in the day: There are no plans to investigate Brown from a criminal standpoint. At least, not yet.

Local authorities in Pittsburgh also noted that Taylor did not file a criminal complaint after any of the alleged incidents. That’s somewhat par for the course when it comes to sexual assault victims. The Brennan Center For Justice released a report back in 2018 claiming that 80 percent of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported.

In no way is this to assume guilt on Brown’s part. He has not been charged with a crime. That’s an important thing to note. Whether this changes moving forward remains to be seen. But the innocent until proven guilty standard obviously applies here.

NFL Action

Taylor is slated to meet with the NFL, presumably commissioner Roger Goodell included, at some point next week. The league has initiated an internal investigation stemming from the allegations.

As we saw with the Ezekiel Elliott situation back in 2017, the NFL operates outside of the realm of the American justice system. There is no innocent until proven guilty standard here. Remember, Elliott was suspended six games despite not being charged in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident.

This could change once the current collective bargaining agreement expires following the 2020 season. But the precedent has been set. Goodell and Co. could take action under the league’s personal conduct policy without Brown being charged with a crime.

There are a few different options available to the league. It could deem that Taylor’s allegations are legitimate and suspend Brown outright. But the likelier scenario is that Brown is placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. This enables him to still collect a payday while being unable to play. It’s something Goodell and Co. have used multiple times in the past.

With that said, there’s some ambiguity to whether the league can do this sans an official criminal charge against Brown. The NFL Personal Conduct Policy clearly states that the above-mentioned exempt list is unavailable based on the filing of an unsworn civil lawsuit. Remember, Taylor has yet to go under oath after filing the suit.

The last paragraph is what leads to ambiguity in this regard. “Second, when an investigation leads to the Commissioner (Goodell) to believe that a player may have violated this policy by committing any of the conduct identified above.”

Obviously, sexual assault would fall under that.

Regarding said investigation, the NFL also outlined what happens under its Personal Conduct Policy.

“Whenever the league office becomes aware of a possible violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, it will undertake an investigation, the timing and scope of which will be based upon the particular circumstances of the matter.”

In layman’s terms, the league seems to be free to place Brown on the Commissioner’s Exempt list until a final determination is made. Given that Goodell and Co. are not set to meet with Mrs. Taylor until next week, if seems to be a foregone conclusion that Brown will make his Patriots debut Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. That was the plan before this lawsuit was made public record.

Finances

Brown officially signed a one-year, $10.5 million contract with New England on Tuesday. It includes a $9 million signing bonus, $10 million in fully guaranteed cash and a $20 million team option for the 2020 season.

Naturally, New England could decide against picking up Brown’s 2020 option before the deadline in March. That’s not even in question. Instead, it’s all about the guaranteed cash and Brown’s signing bonus.

Remember, the star receiver will still get paid if he’s placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. It would take action from New England under the personal conduct policy to eliminate the guarantees and signing bonus.

Brown’s contract language indicates that said guarantees can be voided if the receiver “takes any action that materially undermines the public's respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club, the Player's teammates or the Club's ownership, coaches, etc., guarantees will null and void.”

As with the NFL, there are no legal standards here. Simply put, if the Patriots’ brass believes that the alleged actions paint the organization in a bad light, they can void the guarantees. That’s only true if the NFL does indeed decide to suspend Brown.

It appears that the ball is in Goodell’s court right now. Whatever actions the NFL takes moving forward will have a trickle-down effect for Brown and any future he might have in the league and with the Patriots.

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New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown is facing sexual assault allegations stemming from three different alleged incidents spanning both 2017 and 2018.

The New York Times released information pertaining to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday by Brown’s former trainer, Britney Taylor, claming that he assaulted her on three different occasions.

The allegations themselves are damning for the embattled receiver after his brief stint with the Oakland Raiders came to an abrupt end this past Saturday.

“According to the suit, Brown sexually assaulted Taylor twice during training sessions in June 2017. First, he exposed himself and kissed her without permission,” the report said. The third alleged incident in 2018 is even more disturbing. You can read it in The NY Times article linked above.

Brown’s lawyer, Darren Heitner, a former Forbes.com contributor, released a statement after the lawsuit was filed, categorically denying the allegations.

There are obvious legal and financial ramifications here. Let’s look through the plethora of implications in that regard.

Criminal Charges

Despite a report earlier on Wednesday that Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala and his office were set to look into the allegations, the DA pushed back against that in a statement later in the day: There are no plans to investigate Brown from a criminal standpoint. At least, not yet.

Local authorities in Pittsburgh also noted that Taylor did not file a criminal complaint after any of the alleged incidents. That’s somewhat par for the course when it comes to sexual assault victims. The Brennan Center For Justice released a report back in 2018 claiming that 80 percent of rapes and sexual assaults go unreported.

In no way is this to assume guilt on Brown’s part. He has not been charged with a crime. That’s an important thing to note. Whether this changes moving forward remains to be seen. But the innocent until proven guilty standard obviously applies here.

NFL Action

Taylor is slated to meet with the NFL, presumably commissioner Roger Goodell included, at some point next week. The league has initiated an internal investigation stemming from the allegations.

As we saw with the Ezekiel Elliott situation back in 2017, the NFL operates outside of the realm of the American justice system. There is no innocent until proven guilty standard here. Remember, Elliott was suspended six games despite not being charged in connection with an alleged domestic violence incident.

This could change once the current collective bargaining agreement expires following the 2020 season. But the precedent has been set. Goodell and Co. could take action under the league’s personal conduct policy without Brown being charged with a crime.

There are a few different options available to the league. It could deem that Taylor’s allegations are legitimate and suspend Brown outright. But the likelier scenario is that Brown is placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. This enables him to still collect a payday while being unable to play. It’s something Goodell and Co. have used multiple times in the past.

With that said, there’s some ambiguity to whether the league can do this sans an official criminal charge against Brown. The NFL Personal Conduct Policy clearly states that the above-mentioned exempt list is unavailable based on the filing of an unsworn civil lawsuit. Remember, Taylor has yet to go under oath after filing the suit.

The last paragraph is what leads to ambiguity in this regard. “Second, when an investigation leads to the Commissioner (Goodell) to believe that a player may have violated this policy by committing any of the conduct identified above.”

Obviously, sexual assault would fall under that.

Regarding said investigation, the NFL also outlined what happens under its Personal Conduct Policy.

“Whenever the league office becomes aware of a possible violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, it will undertake an investigation, the timing and scope of which will be based upon the particular circumstances of the matter.”

In layman’s terms, the league seems to be free to place Brown on the Commissioner’s Exempt list until a final determination is made. Given that Goodell and Co. are not set to meet with Mrs. Taylor until next week, if seems to be a foregone conclusion that Brown will make his Patriots debut Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. That was the plan before this lawsuit was made public record.

Finances

Brown officially signed a one-year, $10.5 million contract with New England on Tuesday. It includes a $9 million signing bonus, $10 million in fully guaranteed cash and a $20 million team option for the 2020 season.

Naturally, New England could decide against picking up Brown’s 2020 option before the deadline in March. That’s not even in question. Instead, it’s all about the guaranteed cash and Brown’s signing bonus.

Remember, the star receiver will still get paid if he’s placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. It would take action from New England under the personal conduct policy to eliminate the guarantees and signing bonus.

Brown’s contract language indicates that said guarantees can be voided if the receiver “takes any action that materially undermines the public's respect for, or is materially critical of, the Club, the Player's teammates or the Club's ownership, coaches, etc., guarantees will null and void.”

As with the NFL, there are no legal standards here. Simply put, if the Patriots’ brass believes that the alleged actions paint the organization in a bad light, they can void the guarantees. That’s only true if the NFL does indeed decide to suspend Brown.

It appears that the ball is in Goodell’s court right now. Whatever actions the NFL takes moving forward will have a trickle-down effect for Brown and any future he might have in the league and with the Patriots.

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Editor at Large of Sportsnaut, contributor here at Forbes. Seen on Fox Sports and MSN. Heard on Fox Sports Radio and ESPN Radio. Previous bylines include: Bleacher Repo

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