Antonio Brown settles lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault
By Ken Belson
Antonio Brown, one of the NFL’s most prominent wide receivers, said through a representative earlier this week that he had settled a lawsuit brought by his former trainer who had accused him of rape and sexual assault. The statement from Brown’s representative was also released by the accuser’s legal team.
The resolution appeared to have ended the bitter and often public dispute between Brown and Britney Taylor, who filed a civil claim in September 2019 that accused the NFL star of sexually assaulting her twice in June 2017 and raping her in May 2018. Taylor publicly identified herself as Brown’s accuser in a statement issued when the lawsuit was filed.
She said that she had met Brown when they were students at Central Michigan and that they had stayed in contact after Brown reached the NFL, as a sixth-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010. Brown had hired Taylor as a personal trainer and, according to the statement Wednesday, they were business partners for a time.
Brown has repeatedly denied the allegations, which the statement did not address.
The settlement announced Wednesday brought an abrupt end to a dispute that led to dueling lawsuits and caustic comments between Taylor and Brown, who signed with Tampa Bay last season and helped the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl victory.
“Having reflected on their relationship, both feel that the time has come to move on,” Alana Burstyn, Brown’s spokesperson, said in a statement. “Antonio is grateful for Britney’s excellent training assistance. They are pleased that Antonio is doing so well with the Bucs and has a ring. Their dispute is resolved and they wish each other great continued success.”
Asked what prompted the settlement, Burstyn said that Brown and Taylor “got tired of fighting.”
Burstyn and Taylor’s lawyer, David Haas, did not provide financial details of the settlement.
The NFL’s investigation into the case is continuing, a spokesperson said.
Brown, 32, was also accused of sexual misconduct by another woman in a Sports Illustrated report published a week after Taylor’s case became public. Brown also denied that accusation.
The accusations surfaced soon after Brown joined the New England Patriots. The team released him on Sept. 20, 2019, after he sent threatening texts to his accuser in the second case. He sat out the remainder of the 2019 season, and during that hiatus was charged with burglary and battery in a January 2020 dispute with a moving company employee. Brown pleaded no contest in that case and received two years’ probation.
When Taylor filed her case against Brown, he countersued, claiming she had defamed him and interfered with his NFL contracts and endorsements.
As his legal troubles piled up and he made increasingly strident pronouncements on social media, Brown went from a highly coveted receiver to an outcast on the verge of being bounced from the NFL. His future on the football field was clouded further when the league, as it continued to investigate Taylor’s claims, suspended him for the first half of the 2020 season because of the threatening texts and his role in the dispute with the moving company employee.
Tampa Bay signed Brown last October, with Taylor’s lawsuit and the NFL’s investigation still pending. Before his first game for the Buccaneers, Brown said he was grateful for another chance to get back on the field and thanked the team’s quarterback, Tom Brady, who let Brown stay in his Tampa-area mansion. Brown said he hoped to prove himself to his new team and “win them over in my actions, how I move forward and how I handle my business.”
Brown played in 11 games at the end of the 2020 NFL season and during the playoffs, helping the Buccaneers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
Even before Taylor’s suit was filed, Brown had earned a reputation in the NFL as a fiery personality. He scuffled with teammates and was fined for touchdown celebrations during his nine seasons with the Steelers, and then had short stints with the Oakland Raiders and the Patriots in 2019.
As a Raider, he fought with the team’s general manager, argued over which helmet he could use and sat out most of the 2019 training camp because of a severe case of frostbite on his feet that developed when he used a cryotherapy chamber. He criticized the Raiders and the Patriots after he was released and threatened to retire on Instagram, continuing to do so in elaborately produced videos even as he publicly disputed Taylor’s allegations. Brown’s tempestuousness ultimately prompted his longtime agent, Drew Rosenhaus, to walk away from a client who earned $77.5 million during his career.
Brown earned $1.67 million on a one-year contract last season, as well as a playoff bonus. He has not re-signed with the Buccaneers and is an unrestricted free agent.
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said Wednesday that he has been negotiating to re-sign Brown for the 2021 season and that the status of the Taylor lawsuit had not affected the talks.
“So, to have this resolved, it certainly helps,” Licht said. “But it wasn’t, you know, that isn’t necessarily the deciding factor of whether or not we’re going to continue to talk.”