One of the NFL’s biggest stars, Antonio Brown, has been accused of rape by his former personal trainer.
Britney Taylor claims that the New England Patriots player sexually assaulted her on three occasions, according to a lawsuit filed in Florida.
The 31-year-old vehemently denies the allegations and will “aggressively defend himself” in counter-lawsuits, his lawyer has said.
Darren Heitner, who represents Brown, claimed the American football player and Ms Taylor had “a consensual personal relationship”.
Ms Taylor waived her right to anonymity by identifying herself in the federal lawsuit. She said the decision to speak out was “incredibly difficult” but “removes the shame that I have felt for the past year”.
Brown joined the New England Patriots, the defending Super Bowl champions, last week after being released by Oakland following clashes with the team. He is yet to play for his new club.
He met Ms Taylor through the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Central Michigan University, according to the lawsuit.
Ms Taylor said Brown contacted her via Facebook in June 2017 and asked the former gymnast for help with improving his strength and flexibility.
Ms Taylor alleges that she was sexually assaulted by Brown on separate training trips to Pittsburgh and Florida that same month, the lawsuit states.
The court document also includes alleged text messages from Brown in which he is said to have bragged about the second assault.
Ms Taylor claims she tried to cut ties with Brown but decided to work with him again after he apologised and agreed to provide hotel accommodation for each training trip.
According to the lawsuit, the pair were in Miami in May last year when he allegedly raped her in a bedroom at his home.
Ms Taylor claims she shouted “no” and “stop” but Brown refused during the alleged attack.
In a statement denying the allegations, Brown’s lawyer said the sports star was approached by Ms Taylor about making a $1.6m (£1.3m) investment in a business project in 2017, but he declined the offer.
Ms Taylor reached out to Brown – who plays as a wide receiver – again last year, travelling to his properties on several occasions, and asked for tickets to a Pittsburgh Steelers game, Mr Heitner added.
The lawyer went on: “Mr Brown, whose hard work and dedication to his craft has allowed him to rise to the top of his profession, refuses to be the victim of what he believes to be a money grab.”
A spokesman for the NFL declined to comment, but the Patriots said the league had told them it will launch an investigation.
In a statement, the club said: “We are aware of the civil lawsuit that was filed earlier today against Antonio Brown, as well as the response by Antonio’s representatives.
“We take these allegations very seriously. Under no circumstance does this organisation condone sexual violence or assault.
“The league has informed us that they will be investigating. We will have no further comment while that investigation takes place.”
Source: SKY NEWS