- 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
Hollywood Figures Back John Boyega After Powerful Black Lives Matter Speech
Photo: Twitter/The Nikki Diaries
- Star War’s actor John Boyega gave an emotional speech in support of the Black Lives Matter movement at a protest in London.
- In it, he stated that he might lose his career for speaking out but didn’t care.
- Many pointed to the white privilege of other stars, like Ariana Grande and Harry Styles, who can protest without the same fears.
- Soon after, directors, actors, and Disney’s Lucasfilms showed support for Boyega, promising to have his back or expressing a desire to work with him.
Boyega’s Emotional Speech
Star War’s actor John Boyega is one of the many celebrities supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and calling for justice over the killing of George Floyd.
Since protests first broke out last week, he’s made headlines for speaking out against racism on Twitter and Instagram.
Now he’s in the news again after giving a powerful speech during a demonstration at Hyde Park in London.
Clips of his speech have spread on social media that show him getting emotional when talking about the struggles Black people face. “I need you to understand how painful this shit is…to be reminded every day that your race means nothing!”
“We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd!” Boyega continued “We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland! We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin! We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence! For Mark Duggan!”
He also fought back tears when pleading with Black men to take care of Black women. “They are our hearts. They are our future. We cannot demonize our own.”
Along with that, Boyega talked passionately about fighting for Black people around the world to live in freedom.
He also encouraged protesters to keep things peaceful, saying “because you know what guys, they want us to mess up.”
Boyega Notes Career Risk
Tons of different segments from his speech have been praised, but one moment that seemed to capture a lot of attention was this: “I’m speaking to you from my heart. Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but fuck that.”
That was a very striking comment for people who pointed to the white privilege of celebrities like Ariana Grande and Harry Styles, who don’t have to worry about losing their careers for protesting.
Hollywood Shows Support
It’s hard to deny that the risk is real for Boyega when you considering the fact that Colin Kaepernick lost his football for fighting the same fight. So in response to that, several Hollywood figures made sure to pledge their support for Boyega.
“BlacKkKlansman” producer Matthew A. Cherry tweeted, “I would work with John Boyega and I urge other Non-Black creators to affirm that they have his back as well.”
Jordan Peele, the Oscar-winning writer behind films like“Get Out” and “Us”, then follow up with “We got you, John.”
Others like Olivia Wilde and Elizabeth Banks said they would be honored to work with Boyega, with similar praise coming from people like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Paul Feig, and dozens of other industry players.
Oh god I WISH, Ojalá! From Attack The Block to this day! pic.twitter.com/sB7eJqF0sy— Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) June 3, 2020
As far as his Star War’s team, actor Mark Hammil said he had “never been more proud,” while Directors JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson also backed Boyega.
But the biggest display of support came from the Disney-owned Star Wars Twitter account, which shared a photo of Boyega from the protest along with a statement that said Lucasfilms stands with him. “John Boyega, you are our hero,” it added.
The flood of statements are major signs of solidarity for the fight against racial injustice. They show that key figures in the entertainment industry not only trying to ease Boyega’s fears but are also encouraging him and others to use their celebrity for a greater purpose.
See what others are saying (Vanity Fair) (Insider) (The Hollywood Reporter)
Emma Watson Responds to Backlash After Blackout Tuesday Post
- Emma Watson faced backlash when she participated in #BlackoutTuesday by sharing three black squares with white frames, seemingly to match the style of her Instagram profile.
- Some thought this was a form of fake allyship, but others fought back saying Watson has engaged in activism for longer than most celebrities.
- Watson later posted more, noting that she was waiting for #BlackoutTuesday to end in the U.K. before speaking.
- Her new posts included statements on how she has examined her white privilege, art and writing from Black activists, and resources for people to become better allies.
Watson’s Posts Spark Backlash
Emma Watson’s participation in #BlackoutTuesday caused a divide amongst her followers after, prompting backlash from some who thought they were a display of lazy allyship.
On Tuesday, many Instagram users posted black squares on their feed as a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Watson followed suit but posted three black squares, each with a white frame surrounding them.
Her most recent three photos before this were a row of all white squares, prompting her followers to think her blackout posts were more about aesthetics than activism.
Because Watson has such a far reach with her audience, many criticized her for not taking more advantage of that in calling for justice following the death of George Floyd.
“She thought the best idea was sharing (three black squares)?” one person asked, noting the size of her platform. “…Open your purse, SPREAD INFORMATION”
Fans Defend Watson
However, some fans did rush to Watson’s defense, explaining that she has a longer history of being an activist and ally than most celebrities who are participating in #BlackoutTuesday
“Emma Watson’s done more than most of you all and she’s been doing it since 2015,” said one person on Twitter. “And most of you have been doing it for like… 2 days? And you think you have the right to call her out?”
“She’s been campaigning against inequality and racism for years,” another person added, noting that there are plenty of other public figures who could be called out for “virtue signaling.”
Many brought up Our Shared Shelf, a book club Watson founded that often selects works by female authors of color. Watson has also advocated for gender equality on the global stage in work with the United Nations and G7.
She has also been very open about her feminism and its growth. In 2017, she wrote a post about examining her own white privilege, how that played a role in her feminism, and how she could make sure it does not prove to be a blind spot.
However, a lot of people thought that because she has such a long history with activism, she should be more vocal during this moment.
Emma Adds More to Conversation
A few hours after posting the controversial black squares, Watson posted three more photos on Instagram.
“I was holding off posting until #blackouttuesday ended in the UK.,” Watson explained in the caption of her first post, which featured art by Dr. Fahamu Pecou. She also shared a poem and quote Pecou wrote as part of a Black Lives Matter series.
View this post on Instagram
I was holding off posting until #blackouttuesday ended in the UK. The Artwork of my brilliant dear friend @fahamupecou “White Lies, Subtleties, Micro-Aggressions, and Other Choking Hazards” B R O K E N O P E N (poem + text from the series BLACK MATTER LIVES) by Dr Fahamu Pecou broken broke and hoping broke in, hoping broke. end. hoping… bro! kin hopin’! broken… hopin. broken. open. broken open! (Break) “We can not be broken. We do not break. For too long we’ve been afraid that their violence would end us. But we are still here. Some they took, but they’ve all come back. They never truly left. We never truly leave. Like the police and other systems they’ve weaponized against us, the names of those they tried to silence go off in their ears like nuclear bombs. Names that swell in their throats and linger until they can no longer breathe. So let us haunt their dreams and their waking moments alike. Say their names: Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd. Let them see us. Let them hear us. No friends, we have nothing to fear. An army of Egungun warriors walk amongst us. They have tried, and for centuries they have failed to violate us… to silence us. This is not breaking. This is opening. The cracks are windows. The holes are doors. Shine your light through.” – Dr. Fahamu Pecou Say their names #AhmaudArbery #BreonnaTaylor #GeorgeFloyd
“Like the police and other systems they’ve weaponized against us, the names of those they tried to silence go off in their ears like nuclear bombs,” Pecou’s quote read. “Names that swell in their throats and linger until they can no longer breathe. So let us haunt their dreams and their waking moments alike. Say their names: Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. George Floyd.”
In the following post, she expressed some of her own thoughts.
“There is so much racism, both in our past and present, that is not acknowledged nor accounted for,” she wrote. “White supremacy is one of the systems of hierarchy and dominance, of exploitation and oppression, that is tightly stitched into society. As a white person, I have benefited from this.”
“Whilst we might feel that, as individuals, we’re working hard internally to be anti-racist, we need to work harder externally to actively tackle the structural and institutional racism around us,” she continued. “I’m still learning about the many ways I unconsciously support and uphold a system that is structurally racist.”
She then promised to share information and resources that she has found useful in examining race and privilege herself. Her Instagram bio now links to a Google Doc of anti-racism resources that includes guides on how to talk to children about race, as well as podcasts and books that discuss race.
Her Instagram story also encouraged her followers to sign petitions and donate to organizations fighting for justice for George Floyd and other Black victims of police brutality. On Twitter, she has been retweeting articles, allyship guides, information on violence against black women, and other projects demanding justice.
“I see your anger, sadness and pain,” Watson wrote. “I cannot know what this feels like for you but it doesn’t mean I won’t try to.”
While some were upset that it took Watson so long to speak up, some were glad she user her voice more and did research on the matter.
See what others are saying: (Entertainment Tonight) (Fox News) (Metro)
Star Samantha Marie Ware Says Lea Michele Made Glee Set a “Living Hell”
- Lea Michele was called out by former Glee co-star Samantha Marie Ware, who said Michele made the set a “living hell” and once said she would shit in Ware’s wig.
- Some of Michele’s former colleagues shared this tweet with messages supporting it, while others echoed Ware’s statement with stories of their own.
- The topic of racism in Hollywood also made its way to Twitter after someone said Josie and the Pussycats were written off Riverdale because actress Ashleigh Murray was a diva who did not like working with talented women.
- Both Murray and co-star Vanessa Morgan denied this. Morgan also made a statement condemning stereotypes being portrayed on television, as well as black characters being sidelined in plots while white characters get more screen time.
Former Co-Stars Call Out Lea Michele
Actress Lea Michele was called out by former co-stars for alleged racist behavior on the set of Glee.
Michele, who appeared on the show for the duration of its run from 2009-2015, tweeted about the death of George Floyd on Friday. On Monday night, Samantha Marie Ware, who starred alongside her for a duration of season six, shared that tweet and said Michele made her time on the show “a living hell.”
“I believe you told everyone that if you (sic) had the opportunity you would ‘shit in my wig!’ amongst other microagressions that made me question a career in Hollywood,” she added in her all-caps tweet.
After she shared this, many of Michele’s other former co-stars made posts that either directly or indirectly indicated that they agreed with Ware or had a similar experience.
Amber Riley, who was also a lead on Glee, shared a gif of her sipping from a coffee mug.
Alex Newell, who was on the show for several years shared Ware’s tweet along with a gif of a RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant saying “Get her, Jade!”
Musician and actor Dabier, who appeared on one episode of Glee claimed that Michele told him he could not sit at a table with the main cast because he did not “belong there.”
“Seeing her message brought back bad memories of being less than on set of glee. Ain’t goin stand for her being fake like she care,” he later added.
Actors who worked with her on other projects also responded, including Yvette Nicole Brown, who worked with Michele on the short-lived comedy The Mayor.
“I felt every one of those capital letters.” she said in response to Ware’s tweet.
Brown posted several tweets inr response to this, but never called Michele out on any behavior or detailed a specific experience she had. In one tweet, she emphasized that every person on any set should be respected, and that this starts with main cast actors creating a welcoming environment.
Riverdale Cast Speaks Out
Michele has not yet responded to the tweets. However, these claims were not the only reason people online were discussing racism in Hollywood. Actors from the cast of Riverdale also spoke out against racial stereotypes often depicted on television.
This discussion started Sunday when someone tweeted about Ashleigh Murray. Murray played Josie of Josie and the Pussycats for several years on Riverdale and now plays that same character in Katy Keene, another show in the Archie Comics Universe.
In the now-deleted post, someone alleged that Josie and the Pussycats were written off of Riverdale because Murray is a “known diva” and didn’t want to share the screen with other talented women. They also claimed that in Katy Keene, Josie has few scenes with women because of this.
“You clearly have me mixed up with someone else,” Murray responded. I love the Pussycats more than any show ever did. If it were up to me, we’d have our own show.”
Vanessa Morgan, who plays Toni Topaz on Riverdale, also stepped up to Murray’s defense.
“You don’t know what the fuck your talking about and don’t talk about my friend like that,” she wrote. “Another thing i hate BLACK women being called DIVAS for sticking up for themselves. Maybe the show should write for her like the white characters.”
She also sent another tweet criticizing the the way Black people are represented on television.
“Tired of how black people are portrayed in media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous or angry scary people,” she wrote. “Tired of us also benign used as side kick non dimensional characters to our white leads.”
On Riverdale, Morgan’s character usually only has plotlines related to the character she dates, who is a white lead that gets more screen time.
These Riverdale stars were not the only ones creating an open dialogue about race in Hollywood. Lesley-Ann Brandt, who appears on the show Lucifer tweeted on Tuesday morning that leaders in the industry should be reaching out to Black artists to learn about their experiences.
Murray shared that tweet and added that “these are the ways we can implement real change.