Report: Patriots ‘caught by surprise’ by AB rape accusation

The New England Patriots were reportedly unaware that Antonio Brown was facing sexual assault and rape accusations when the team signed him last week, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

With Brown’s signing announced and the star wideout scheduled to begin practice with the team on Wednesday, the Patriots are now deciding how to proceed.

The team released a statement late Tuesday night confirming it is aware of the lawsuit and that the NFL will be investigating the matter.

One possibility for Brown mentioned by Schefter is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could place Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list while the league investigates the allegations. Such a move would give Brown his salary, but take him off the team’s active roster and forbid him from playing in games and practices.

The list has been used in the past to sideline Adrian Peterson, Kareem Hunt and Reuben Foster following their own personal scandals.

According to Schefter, the Patriots “were caught by surprise” in regards to the sexual assault allegations.

26 PHOTOSAntonio Brown through his careerSee GalleryAntonio Brown through his careerPITTSBURGH, PA – CIRCA 2010: In this handout image provided by the NFL, Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers poses for his 2010 NFL headshot circa 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 21:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates celebrates during the game against the Oakland Raiders on November 21, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – JANUARY 15:Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball after a catch against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Heinz Field on January 15, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 18:Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Heinz Field on August 18, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.The Steelers defeated the Eagles 24-14.(Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 06:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates following a catch for a first down against the Baltimore Ravens during the game on November 6, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – SEPTEMBER 16:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts after making a catch in the second half against the New York Jets during the game on September 16, 2012 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.The Steelers defeated the Jets 27-10.(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 10:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers makes a catch in the end zone that was over turned as a touchdown in the first half against Corey Webster #23 of the New York Giants during the game on August 10, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – AUGUST 28:Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles as he looks on from the sideline during a preseason game against the Carolina Panthers at Heinz Field on August 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.The Panthers defeated the Steelers 10-0. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 30:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers signs autographs before the game against the New Orleans Saints on November 30, 2014 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) GLENDALE, AZ – JANUARY 25: Team Carter wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up before the 2015 Pro Bowl at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 25, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)PHOENIX, AZ – JANUARY 31:Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown attends the 2015 NFL Honors at Phoenix Convention Center on January 31, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.(Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 15:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers scores a 2-point conversion during the 2nd quarter of the game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field on November 15, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)BALTIMORE, MD – DECEMBER 27, 2015: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers smiles at fans prior to a game against the Baltimore Ravens on December 27, 2015 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. Baltimore won 20-17. (Photo by: Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – OCTOBER 09:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers warms up prior to playing the New York Jets at Heinz Field on October 9, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 13: Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown (84) catches a pass during warmups before the NFL Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 13, 2016, at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. The Cowboys defeated the Steelers with a final score of 35-30. (Photo by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)ORCHARD PARK, NY – DECEMBER 11: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers runs with the ball after a catch against the Buffalo Bills during the second half at New Era Field on December 11, 2016 in Orchard Park, New York.(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – JANUARY 08:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates after scoring his second touchdown during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)CLEVELAND, OH – SEPTEMBER 10:Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers in action against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium on September 10, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)BALTIMORE, MD – OCTOBER 01: Wide receiver Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on before a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)INDIANAPOLIS, IN – NOVEMBER 12: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) takes a selfie with a fan before the NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Indianapolis Colts on November 12, 2017, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN. (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)PITTSBURGH, PA – NOVEMBER 16: Pittsburgh Steelers Wide Receiver Antonio Brown (84) looks on during the game between the Tennessee Titans and the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 16, 2017 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)PITTSBURGH, PA – JANUARY 14: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) looks on during the AFC Divisional Playoff game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Pittsburgh Steelers on January 14, 2018 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pa. (Photo by Mark Alberti/ Icon Sportswire)MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 03:NFL player Antonio Brown attends the 2018 Big Game Weekend Hearing Mission With Starkey Hearing Technologies on February 3, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Starkey Hearing Technologies)Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown, center, holds his jersey beside coach Jon Gruden, left, and general manager Mike Mayock during an NFL football news conference Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden, left, and wide receiver Antonio Brown listen to questions from the media during an NFL football news conference, Wednesday, March 13, 2019, in Alameda, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown runs during an official team activity at the NFL football team’s headquarters in Alameda, Calif., Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)Up Next

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The Patriots agreed to terms with Brown on a one-year, $15 million deal last week after an hours-long free agency. Brown had previously forced his way out of the Raiders organization with an entire month of unhinged behavior, culminating in the team granting his request to be released.

The Patriots were likely bracing themselves to handle Brown and all of his behavior, but the allegations against the player might be a different story.

The allegations against Antonio Brown

Brown was accused of three instances of sexual assault between 2017 and 2018 by his former trainer Britney Taylor in a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday.

Taylor reportedly knew Brown from their time together at Central Michigan, where she was a gymnast while he was a football player. She alleges in her lawsuit Brown did the following:

  • Exposed himself to her and kissed her without her consent during a training visit in Pittsburgh in June 2017

  • Masturbated behind her while the two watched a church service on her iPad and ejaculated on her back in Miami, also in June 2017

  • Pushed her face-first into a mattress and forcibly raped her in Miami in May 2018 after she agreed to train him again with an assurance his sexual advances would stop

Included in Taylor’s lawsuit are screengrabs of Brown appearing to profanely brag about the second incident in an email.

Brown denied all allegations in a statement released by his lawyer, and reportedly plans to countersue Taylor for civil extortion.

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