- In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, the New England Patriots’ new wide receiver Antonio Brown was accused of three incidents of sexual assault in 2017 and 2018, against his former trainer.
- Brown denied the allegations, with his legal team saying the sexual relationship was consensual and suggesting that the accuser is after money.
- The N.F.L. will launch its own investigation into the claims, but as of now, it is unclear if Brown will be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list.
Accuser Files Lawsuit
New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown has been accused of raping his former trainer, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida.
The civil complaint claims that Brown, 31, assaulted a woman named Britney Taylor, 28, on three separate occasions, two times in June 2017 and another time in May 2018. Taylor, a gymnast who says she was Brown’s Bible study partner while both attended Central Michigan, stayed in contact with Brown after he reached the N.F.L. and was later hired as his trainer.
According to the suit, the first alleged incident happened when Brown exposed himself and kissed her without consent inside one of his Pittsburgh-area homes. Later that month, Taylor claims that they were watching a religious program together when he masturbated near her without her knowledge and ejaculated on her back at his Miami home. Taylor also claims that Brown later bragged about this incident in a series of profane text messages, which are included in the lawsuit.
Taylor says she ended her working relationship with him after that but reconnected with him again after he apologized to her several months later. The suit says she was “swayed by his assurance that he would cease any sexual advances.”
The third incident allegedly happened the following year after a night out at a Miami-area club. The lawsuit claims that Taylor went back to Brown’s Miami home to use the bathroom and grab some food. When she was there, he allegedly “forced her down onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress, and forcibly raped her.” She claims she tried to resist by screaming and repeatedly shouting “no” and “stop.”
The lawsuit says Taylor told at least three people about the incidents: her mother, Brown’s chef, and a member of her church.
“As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision,” Taylor said in a statement released by her lawyer. “I have found strength in my faith, my family, and from the accounts of other survivors of sexual assault.”
The lawsuit says the incidents have left Taylor suffering from “near-daily panic attacks and suicidal ideations.” She is seeking in excess of $75,000 for claims of sexual battery, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and invasion of privacy for unwanted and offensive sexual contact.
The court filing came just a day after Brown joined the Patriots, after requesting a release from the Oakland Raiders last week. The Patriots issued a statement Tuesday night saying the N.F.L planned to conduct its own investigation into the accusations, which Taylor has agreed to cooperate with.
“We take these allegations very seriously,” the Patriots said. “Under no circumstance does this organization 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.”
The league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell, has the power to discipline players under a personal conduct policy. The policy does not rely on the outcome of legal proceedings. However, as of now, it’s unclear what steps the N.F.L. will take against Brown if any.
The Washington Post reported that the league will “give serious consideration” to putting Brown on the commissioner’s exempt list, making him ineligible to play. Although if this happens, he would still receive a paycheck since the list is considered a form of paid leave.
One anonymous source told the Post that placement on the list is something the league “is going to have to focus on” in the coming days. It is still unknown if any decision will be made before the Patriots are scheduled to play again.
Brown Denies Accusations
“Mr. Brown denies each and every allegation in the lawsuit,” Brown’s attorney Darren Heitner said in a statement. “He will pursue all legal remedies to not only clear his name but to also protect other professional athletes against false accusations.”
Heitner went on to say the two engaged in a “consensual personal relationship” in 2018. He also suggested that Taylor’s accusations were motivated by money.
In the statement, Heitner claimed that Taylor approached Brown in 2017, “shortly after Mr. Brown signed a contract making him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL.”
He said she asked him to invest $1.6 million into a business project, but added that Brown, “was not informer that by his accuser that she had just been levied with a $30,000 IRD tax lien or that $300,000 of the $1.6 million so called ‘investment’ was to be used to purchase property already owned by the accuser and her mother.”
He also added that Taylor traveled to Brown’s resident on several occasions, asked for tickets to a game, and posted a photo of Brown on her social media “in an effort to financially benefit from his celebrity.”
“Mr. Brown, whose hard work and dedication to his craft allowed him to rise to the top of his profession, refuses to be the victim of what he believes is a money grab.”
In a follow-up tweet, Heitner said Brown “will leave no stone unturned and will aggressively defend himself, including all of his rights in countersuits.”
Antonio Brown will leave no stone unturned and will aggressively defend himself, including exercising all of his rights in countersuits.— Darren Heitner (@DarrenHeitner) September 11, 2019
Lovers & Friends Festival Line-Up Generates Confusion and Doubt After Artists Deny Involvement
- The newly announced Lovers & Friends music festival has caused online confusion and controversy because some of the artists included in the lineup said they were not participating.
- Lil Kim called the festival fake in a now-deleted Instagram story and Mase asked for his name to be removed from the list.
- Both T-Pain and Megan Thee Stallion were also listed on the lineup, but already have other performances booked on that day.
- Usher and Lauryn Hill, who are both headlining acts, shared the festival on their social media pages.
- Snoop Dogg, a promoter for the festival, made a video reaching out to Lil Kim, asking to resolve the confusion while also saying every other act was confirmed.
Controversy Around Festival
An upcoming music festival in Los Angeles has caused confusion among fans after artists like Lil Kim, who were announced in the lineup, said they would not be attending.
Lauryn Hill, Usher, Ludacris, Lil Jon, and TLC are set to headline the Lovers & Friends Festival on May 9. The event is being organized by Goldenvoice, the company behind festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach. The festival’s lineup also includes Nelly, Sean Paul, T-Pain, Megan Thee Stallion, Ja Rule, Lil Kim, Trina, Mase, Twista, and others.
When the festival was announced on Tuesday, many fans were excited to see this mix of nostalgic ’90s and early aughts performers along with some of today’s chart-toppers. Some of the artists, however, indicated that they were no involved with Lovers & Friends.
“This is SO FAKE! I am not a part of this,” Lil Kim wrote on her Instagram story, with the text covering a screenshot of the lineup. She has since deleted it from her page.
A representative for Trina’s management team also tweeted that she was never contacted by a booking agent for the festival. She has since reached out via a contact email.
Other artists have commented on posts about the Lovers & Friends fest.
“Best wishes on this show but pls take my name off this flyer,” Mase wrote in a now-removed comment on Lovers & Friends’ post.
“AIN’T NO DEPOSIT HIT MY ACCOUNT FOR THIS SHOW,” Twista wrote on the same post. In a later comment, it seemed his issue had been resolved as he said he was now “locked and loaded” to play his hits.
Others also pointed out potential conflicts for the timing of this festival. Megan Thee Stallion is already booked for Broccoli City, a festival in Washington DC that same day. T-Pain is in a similar situation, performing at the Rolling Loud festival in Miami on May 9. Broccoli City tweeted that Megan Thee Stallion would be playing both, but later deleted that post, so it is still unclear if that is actually her plan.
Others also noted that the venue’s website has yet to list Lovers & Friends as an upcoming event.
The announcement was at first met with enthusiasm, and many thought the lineup was fire. But because these comments caused so much confusion, some thought it looked more like fyre.
Many called it fake, and others compared it to the infamous Fyre Festival, which gained notoriety for touting big names and a glamorous setting, only to prove to be a scam and disaster.
Responses to Confusion
There were some responses to the various confusions surrounding this. Snoop Dogg, a promoter for the event, posted an Instagram video addressing the situation. In it, he defended the validity of the festival and specifically called out Lil Kim.
“Lil Kim, get at me on a DM so we can get at you about this money,” he said to the camera. “We was talking to some of your peoples, or we thought we were talking to some of your peoples. Get at me on a DM so we can try to get you this money, see if you with this thing or not.”
“But as far as everyone else on this show, 100% confirmed,” he added.
The founder of music collective Soulection, which is also participating in Lovers & Friend,s tweeted a thread confirming their involvement.
“Everything we get behind is always official and locked in,” they wrote.
The presale for the event is set to start Thursday. Ticket prices start at $145, with the highest VIP package going up to $450. On the Lovers & Friends website, it says the “lineup and set times are subject to change without notice.”
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (Billboard) (Complex)
Caroline Flack’s Death Sparks “Be Kind” Campaign and Media Conversation
- Former “Love Island” host Caroline Flack died by suicide in her London apartment on Saturday.
- Flack was awaiting trial for alleged assault charges, a legal process that was unfolding in the public eye.
- The world has responded with tributes and mourning, as well as condemnation for media outlets and social media trolls who aggravated Flack prior to her death.
- The message to “be kinder” has gained traction in the wake of the tragedy.
When news of TV personality Caroline Flack’s death broke over the weekend, reactions ranged from tributes and mourning to anger and speculation over what might have led to her suicide.
Flack, who formerly hosted the popular reality TV show “Love Island,” died by suicide in her London apartment on Saturday. She was 40 years old.
Flack had been in the midst of a public legal ordeal, as she was awaiting trial for allegedly assaulting her boyfriend, Lewis Burton. She was arrested in December when police were called to their apartment for a domestic incident, but she was released on bail awaiting her trial scheduled for March.
Within a week of her assault charges, Flack stepped down from her position on “Love Island” so as “not [to] detract attention” from the show.
“There have been a significant number of media reports and allegations in regard to my personal life,” she wrote in a statement on Instagram. “While matters were not as have been reported, I am committed to cooperating with the appropriate authorities and I can’t comment further on these matters until the legal process is over.”
Following her Dec. 23 court appearance, Flack posted a message alluding to mental health struggles stemming from the publicity of her legal ongoings.
“This kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person to take on their own,” she wrote on Instagram. “I’m a human being at the end of the day.”
//www.instagram.com/embed.jsView this post on Instagram
Been advised not to go on social media … but I wanted to say happy Christmas to everyone who has been so incredibly kind to me this year….. this kind of scrutiny and speculation is a lot to take on for one person to take on their own… I’m a human being at the end of the day and I’m not going to be silenced when I have a story to tell and a life to keep going with …. I’m taking some time out to get feeling better and learn some lessons from situations I’ve got myself into to.I have nothing but love to give and best wishes for everyone ❤️
Push for Change
The news of Flack’s death has yet again drawn closer attention to the way that public figures are harassed by both the press and people across social media. Some are implying that it was this unfair treatment that pushed Flack to take her own life.
There has been public outcry against infamous British tabloids that extensively covered Flack’s legal charges, with The Sun even previously posting a headline calling her “Caroline Whack.” An online petition calling for “new and stricter laws around safeguarding celebrities and people in the public eye” gained over 549,000 signatures by Tuesday morning.
Another petition was created to urge social media platforms to make online abuse illegal and has gained over 142,000 signatures. The hashtag #CarolinesLaw was trending over the weekend urging these sentiments.
Even politicians have weighed in. On Monday, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson told BBC, “The industry must continue their efforts to go further. We expect them to have robust processes in place for removing content breaching their acceptable use policies.”
Russell Brand also blamed the public scrutiny of Flack for her untimely death, comparing it to that of Amy Winehouse.
“I am angry and sad that Caroline Flack found herself in that place,” he wrote in a post on his website.
“I am angry because I have watched this play out before with vulnerable people in the public eye and I would like to slay with some righteous sword the salacious, foaming, incessant poking, trolling judgment that chased her to the grave,” he added.
At the end of his post, Brand wrote that he hoped for a better future.
“Our best hope is to build relationships and communities based on kindness, forgiveness and compassion, not easy values to maintain given the complexity within us and without us but Caroline’s death shows us that the alternative is just too sad to bear,” he wrote.
Aligned with Brand’s words, the message that has been repeated over and over following Flack’s death is to “be kinder” to each other.
Iain Stirling, the Scottish commentator on “Love Island,” gave an emotional tribute to Flack during Monday night’s episode with this message.
“We are all absolutely devastated by the tragic news that Caroline, a much-loved member of our Love Island family, has passed away,” he said. “Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this dreadful time.”
“My only hope is that we can all try and be kinder, always show love, and listen to one another,” Stirling added.
Global fashion brand In The Style created t-shirts branded with the same message that Flack shared in one of her final Instagram posts in December: “In a world where you can be anything… be kind.” All the proceeds from the shirts are being donated to Samaritans, a charity that supports people with mental health struggles and suicidal thoughts. More than £100,000 has already been raised, according to the brand.
“In light of recent tragic events and recognizing ongoing mental health challenges faced by so many, we feel it’s so important as a brand to use our platform to raise further awareness to mental health and the impact surrounding this,” In The Style said.
//www.instagram.com/embed.jsView this post on Instagram
In light of recent tragic events and the ongoing mental health battles faced by so many we feel it’s so important as a brand to use our platform to raise further awareness to mental health and the impacts surrounding this. You honestly NEVER know what goes on behind closed doors and being kind costs nothing. We have created a ‘Be Kind’ tee and will be donating 100% of ALL profits to @samaritanscharity – They are a charity on hand 24/7 to support people who are suffering with mental health and suicidal thoughts. We want to be very clear that as a business In The Style will make no money whatsoever, we have also waved all delivery charges for purchases on the tee as this is solely to raise money and awareness for a very worthy charity and hopefully in light of such devastating news, we can all learn a very valuable lesson that in a world where we can be anything… be kind. ❤️
Fans have echoed the message across social media.
See what others are saying:(The New York Times) (BBC) (CNN)
Fans Defend Jim Carrey After “Unacceptable” Remark to Female Reporter
- When asked by a female reporter if he still had anything left on his bucket list, actor Jim Carrey said: “Just you. That’s it. It’s all done now.”
- Some blasted Carrey for what they felt was a sexual remark, calling it “unacceptable” and “inappropriate.”
- Meanwhile, fans suggested that the comment was not intended to be sexual but was instead referencing the interview itself as his final bucket list achievement.
Bucket List Question
Jim Carrey is facing backlash over a remark he made to a female journalist that many found inappropriate, but fans are quickly coming to the actor’s defense online.
Reporter Charlotte Long, from UK’s Heat magazine, sat down with the 58-year-old comedian during a press junket for his new animated film, “Sonic the Hedgehog.”
During her interview, Long asks Carrey, “In the film, Sonic has a bucket list. I was wondering, after all you’ve done in your career and in your life, is there anything still left on your bucket list?”
“Just you,” Carrey responds. “Oh,” says Long, taken aback by the comment. She laughs before adding, “Wow.”
“That’s it. It’s all done now,” Carrey says to which Long replies with, “I don’t know what to say to that.”
“Just own it,” Carrey continues. “Okay, I’m owning it now,” Long says.
Comment Sparks Outrage
Long moves forward with her other questions as the pair laughs off the moment. But when she later posted the interview on Twitter, many were shocked and upset by Carrey’s remark, which they interpreted as a sexual comment.
“Lost respect for him today. This is really unacceptable,” one Twitter user said before applauding Long for how she handled it.
Others called his comment “totally inappropriate” and labeled him a “massive sleazebag.”
Fans Defend Carrey
But many of the comedian’s fans jumped to his defense. “He made a joke, joke didn’t land. Everyone is so offended about everything. If a female comedian said that about someone we’d all laugh. The hypocrisy is ridiculous,” one Twitter user said.
“Cue all the heroes acting offended fr the poor woman who was clearly NOT offended.” another added.
Cue all the heroes acting offended for the poor woman who was clearly NOT offended.— Jeremy Fichaud (@FilmJunkie82) February 13, 2020
Meanwhile, others suggested that his comment is being completely misinterpreted. Instead, many feel Carrey was referencing the interview itself as his final bucket list achievement.
“Just you,” he responds. “That’s it, it’s all done now.” The second part implies whatever was on his bucketlist is now done, meaning the interview with her. Get your head right— Trevor Rydberg (@TrevorRydberg) February 13, 2020
He didn’t insinuate sex, he said he was done with his bucket list. It was an off the cuff remark. People need to relax. If anything he made it seem like it was the interview on his bucket list. He was trying to be nice. Relax everyone.— John (@jwilles3) February 13, 2020
This was a joke made about him being mentally present. Not focusing on what he wants to do later but only focusing on what’s happening in the current moment. Anyone who closely follows his career knows exactly what that meant— PC3 🇨🇦 (@PeterCorio11) February 13, 2020
Long eventually changed her Twitter account to private and neither she nor Carrey have commented on the backlash.