Antonio Brown was released from the New England Patriots on Friday afternoon, just a little more than a week after the wide receiver was accused of raping his former trainer in a civil lawsuit.
“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown,” the Patriots said in a statement shared on Twitter Friday. “We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time.”
Brown tweeted “Thanks for the opportunity” soon after the news was announced.
Britney Taylor, a gymnast who previously worked as Brown’s trainer, said in the lawsuit filed Sept. 10 in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida that Brown sexually assaulted her multiple times in 2017 and 2018. The lawsuit against Brown was filed shortly after he joined the Patriots and follows a string of other controversies involving the wide receiver, including a foot injury that stems from frostbite from a cryotherapy session and issues over a helmet policy. Brown has, through his lawyer, denied the accusations and no criminal charges have been filed.
The lawsuit comes as Brown has been in the headlines for weeks over a range of controversies, including refusing to wear an NFL-mandated helmet, getting fined for missing practice and, over the weekend, getting dropped by the Oakland Raiders only to get picked up by the Patriots the same day.
Here’s what to know about the accusations against Brown.
Brown is accused of sexually assaulting his former trainer on multiple occasions
Britney Taylor, 28, met Brown when he became her Bible study partner at Central Michigan University, according to the lawsuit. They were in and out of touch after Brown joined the Pittsburgh Steelers and she transferred to Louisiana State University. In 2017, Brown hired Taylor as a trainer and she would fly to where he was located in either Pittsburgh or Florida for the sessions.
The lawsuit says Brown sexually assaulted Taylor on three different incidents. The first, in June 2017, occurred in one of Brown’s Pittsburgh area homes. Taylor was getting dressed in an upstairs bathroom when she says Brown entered with his penis exposed. Taylor also says he grabbed and kissed her without her consent. According to the lawsuit, Taylor pushed him away and left the room.
Later that same month, Brown and Taylor were watching a church service together in his home in Miami. Brown, who was behind Taylor, started masturbating without her knowledge, according to the lawsuit. She said she realized what was happening when she felt a wet spot on her back and saw that he’d ejaculated on her.
Following this incident, Brown told Taylor she was fired via text. He also bragged in a text about masturbating on her, and called her a “weak b-tch” among other derogatory names, the lawsuit says.
While Taylor ended contact with Brown, he reached back out to her in 2018, apologizing and asking her to return as a trainer with the assurance that things would be different, the lawsuit says. She began working for him again in April 2018.
The lawsuit says that on May 20, 2018, Brown cornered Taylor in his bedroom, pinned her to his bed and “forcibly” raped her. He ignored her cries of “no” and “stop,” according to the lawsuit.
At the moment, Brown faces no criminal charges. The lawsuit does not say whether Taylor reported the alleged assaults to law enforcement. According to the lawsuit, Taylor brought the complaint to recover “compensatory and punitive damages” for the harm she says Brown caused her.
What Britney Taylor has said
Taylor said in the lawsuit that Brown committed “heinous acts” that have irreparably harmed her. Several months later, Taylor became deeply depressed and experienced severe weight loss, chronic panic attacks, suicidal ideation and insomnia, the lawsuit says.
“As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision. I have found strength in my faith, my family, and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault,” Taylor said in a statement shared by her lawyer on Tuesday. “Speaking out removes the shame that I have felt for the past year and places it on the person responsible for my rape.”
Taylor said she would cooperate with the NFL and other agencies investigating the case.
What Antonio Brown has said
Brown has denied all allegations listed in the lawsuit in a statement through his attorney, Darren Heitner, who declined to comment further to TIME.
“He will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name, but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations,” Heitner said in the statement.
The statement says Brown and Taylor had consensual sex in May 2018. Heitner’s statement accuses Taylor of attaching herself to Brown for money.
How the Patriots and NFL have responded
The Patriots released Brown on Friday, just 11 days after signing him. Brown had played in one game for the Patriots, against the Miami Dolphins.
Before the team released Brown, the Patriots said in a statement they: “take these allegations very seriously. Under no circumstance does this organization condone sexual violence or assault.”
In its statement, the Patriots noted that the NFL would launch an investigation, following the release of the lawsuit and statement from Brown’s attorney.
A spokesperson for the NFL told TIME last week, the league was “reviewing the matter.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick had very little to add about the situation surrounding Brown during two press conferences over the last week. “On Antonio’s situation, both Antonio and his representatives have made statements and I’m not going to be expanding on any of those, they are what they are,” he told reporters last week. “We’ve looked into the situation. We’re taking it very seriously, all the way through the organization.”
On Friday, soon before the Patriots released Brown, Belichick answered a handful of quick questions about Brown before leaving the press conference. “I’m good, thank you. I think we had enough of it,” Belichick said.
Antonio Brown’s other scandals
Prior to the serious allegations outlined in the lawsuit against him, Brown incurred several odd controversies that have put him in the headlines for the past several weeks.
Over the summer, while still playing for the Oakland Raiders, Brown suffered a foot injury from frostbite after reportedly not wearing the right footwear in a cryotherapy chamber, according to Sports Illustrated. In August, he posted a photo to his Instagram stories of his heavily blistered feet and saw a foot specialist, according to various media reports.
At that time, Brown had not practiced since July 30, Sports Illustrated reports.
As Brown dealt with his frostbitten feet, another issue cropped up: the wide receiver filed a helmet grievance against the NFL, saying he refused to play unless he could wear his old helmet, ESPN reported in August. The 10-year-old helmet he has reportedly used throughout his football career is not allowed in play because the league follows rules established by the National Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association (NAERA). NAERA does not permit recertification of helmets that are 10 years or older, thus Brown’s helmet is not allowed.
Brown lost the helmet grievance and returned to the Raiders training camp in mid-August after missing practice for about two weeks.
The Raiders ended up fining Brown $54,000 for failing to show up to practice. On Sept. 4, it was revealed that the team had fined him $215,073.53 for conduct detrimental to the team, which voided nearly $30 million of money guaranteed in his deal. Following this, Brown asked the Raiders to release him from the team in an Instagram post. They released him on Sept. 7, and he signed with the Patriots almost immediately.
Correction, Sept. 12
The original version of this story misstated which organization does not allow recertification of helmets that are 10 years or older. It is the Nationals Athletic Equipment Reconditioners Association, not the National Operating Committee for Standards and Athletic Equipment.
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