news 6 days ago

Ex-LSU gymnast files lawsuit accusing NFL star Antonio Brown of rape; he strongly denies

The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. — Ramon Antonio Vargas The Advocate, Baton Rouge, La.

Sept. 11-- Sep. 11--A former LSU gymnast on Tuesday filed a federal civil lawsuit accusing National Football League star Antonio Brown of raping her while she worked as his personal trainer, according to court records.

Britney Taylor -- who spent her junior and senior seasons as a college gymnast at LSU -- claims that Brown owes her compensation for physical injuries, emotional pain and suffering, among other damages.

Brown's attorney, Darren Heitner, issued a statement vehemently denying Taylor's allegations, arguing that a physical relationship that took place between his client and her was "entirely consensual." Heitner said Taylor's lawsuit comes after she unsuccessfully requested a $1.6 million investment from Brown.

"Antonio Brown will leave no stone unturned and will aggressively defend himself, including exercising all of his rights in countersuits," Heitner's statement said.

It is not clear if Taylor has reported her claims to law enforcement authorities, said the New York Times, which first reported on her lawsuit filed in the federal courthouse in Miami, where Brown is a resident.

According to her suit, Taylor, now 28, met Brown during her freshman year in 2010 at Central Michigan University while both were students there. They were paired up as partners in Bible study and kept in touch while she went to LSU in 2012 and 2013 for her final two years in college, while Brown embarked on a career as an NFL wide receiver.

Taylor -- who described opening a gymnastics training center in Memphis after leaving LSU -- said she and Brown lost touch until the summer of 2017, when he contacted her on Facebook and asked for help improving his flexibility and strength.

She agreed and began flying to train Brown in Pittsburgh and Miami, places where he had homes.

She alleged that he exposed himself and kissed her without her consent while she stayed with him in Pittsburgh; she alleges she pushed him away because she was in a relationship with another man. Though she "had no interest in a sexual relationship with Brown," she wanted the professional training arrangement to remain and therefore went to his home in Miami.

There, she alleges, she was watching a church service with him on a computer tablet when he fondled himself behind her. Taylor's lawsuit contains profane emails that she says are from Brown, reference that incident, and discuss how he would laugh about it with a friend.

Taylor said Brown apologized to her in March 2018, and that she agreed to work with him again on the condition that he "stop flirting with her." Aside from training him, she was handling his schedule, booking his flights and occasionally babysitting his children when she drove him and another unidentified NFL player home after a night of clubbing in May of that year.

Taylor described going into Brown's home to use the restroom and grab some food from the kitchen before he pulled her into his bedroom under the guise of a chat. A few minutes later, the lawsuit alleges, he pinned her down against his mattress and raped her, overcoming her attempts to resist.

She said she decided to retain legal counsel after seeking guidance with a leader at her church who is also a former assistant district attorney and sex crimes prosecutor. She said she took a polygraph test that confirmed her account as truthful.

The Advocate doesn't typically identify sexual abuse victims. But Taylor's lawsuit and media stories on her case included her identity, and she issued a public statement through her attorney, David Haas, with her name attached to it.

The lawsuit against Brown, 31, came days after he signed with the defending Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots, on a one-year contract worth $10.5 million. He spent the offseason with the Oakland Raiders but was released after he clashed with head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock.

Before that, he had spent nine years with the Pittsburgh Steelers, earning First Team All-Pro honors four times.

It was not immediately clear whether Brown could be subject to NFL discipline through the league's personal conduct policy. Taylor's statement indicated that she would cooperate with any NFL investigation.

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