Brown’s status again in limbo this week amid allegations

Sports
Antonio Brown

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown (17) smiles on the sidelines, during the second half at an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins, Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — New England Patriots receiver Antonio Brown’s availability is again in limbo this week with the NFL preparing to meet with the former trainer that has filed a civil lawsuit accusing the star receiver of rape and sexual assault.

On Monday, the NFL declined to comment on the allegations against Brown or when it would speak with his accuser. But the league told the Patriots last week that it was opening an investigation into the matter.

Brown has denied the allegations made in the lawsuit. Darren Heitner, a lawyer representing Brown, told The Associated Press his client plans to countersue.

Sports Illustrated also published a story Monday afternoon in which a second woman, an unnamed artist, alleged that Brown exposed himself to her while she was working on a mural for him at his Pittsburgh home in 2017.

In a statement issued Monday via Twitter , Heitner said Brown also denies the allegation made in the SI story.

“Antonio Brown has reviewed the sexual misconduct allegations made by an unnamed artist included in a recently published Sports Illustrated article and denies that he ever engaged in such activities,” the statement said. “There will be no further comment at this time.”

Brown has not spoken publicly since the lawsuit was filed and he did not address reporters leading up to the game against the Dolphins. He also was not made available following the Miami game and was not present in the locker room during a player availability on Monday.

The Patriots resume practice Wednesday.

Asked during his Monday morning conference call if he expected to hear anything from the NFL about Brown’s availability this week, Patriots coach Bill Belichick said, “I don’t really know anything about that.”

“I’ll just answer any questions about the game, and I’m not getting into anything else outside of that right now,” Belichick said.

In the lawsuit filed by Brown’s former trainer Britney Taylor last week in Florida , she alleges Brown sexually assaulted her on three occasions. According to the lawsuit, Taylor says she was sexually assaulted by Brown on separate training trips to Pittsburgh and Florida that same month in 2017. It also alleges he forcibly raped her in 2018. The suit includes what it says are text messages from Brown bragging about the second assault.

The AP does not usually name the alleged victims of sex assaults, but Taylor was identified in the federal lawsuit and was quoted in a statement provided by her lawyer, David Haas.

Though the allegations made by Taylor against Brown made him subject to discipline under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, he played and scored a touchdown on Sunday during the Patriots’ 43-0 win at Miami. Two sources told The Associated Press that Brown was not placed on the commissioner’s exempt list last week and was eligible to play because no criminal charges had been filed against him and because the NFL hadn’t fully developed its investigation.

Players on the exempt list can’t play in games or practice with a team but are still paid. A player can be placed on the exempt list at any point. The one-year deal Brown signed earlier this month with the Patriots could be worth as much as $15 million.

The 31-year-old Brown was released by Oakland on Sept. 7 after clashing with the team throughout training camp. He agreed to a contract with New England that same day.

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