- 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
Halyna Hutchins Family Settles With “Rust” Production, Filming to Resume in 2023
Alec Baldwin said everyone involved was motivated by the “desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son.”
The family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on the set of “Rust” last year, reached a settlement with the production over a wrongful death lawsuit on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed in February, several months after Hutchins’ death in New Mexico last October. The cast and crew were rehearsing a scene that involved producer and actor Alec Baldwin pointing a gun toward the camera. Baldwin claims he did not know it was loaded when it fired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
The actor also claims he did not actually pull the trigger, but investigators determined it must have been pulled.
Hutchins’ husband Matthew filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of himself and his young son. It claimed that the production did not follow proper safety procedures and endangered the crew via reckless cost-cutting measures. Baldwin was listed as a defendant, as well as the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director, Dave Halls, and others involved with the film.
The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but as part of the agreement, the production of “Rust” will resume in January 2023. The late cinematographer’s husband will join the project as an executive producer.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he said in a statement. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
A Tribute to Hutchins
Souza will return as the director. In a statement, he said his “every effort on this film will be devoted to honoring” Hutchins.
For his part, Baldwin shared the news of the settlement on his Instagram Wednesday morning.
“Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son,” he wrote. “We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation.”
There is still an ongoing criminal probe happening separately from this lawsuit. It is unclear what impact the settlement will have on that, if any.
Last month, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies sent a letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance seeking additional funding to prosecute up to four people over the incident, including Baldwin. So far, no charges have been filed.
In April, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined the production after it found multiple safety violations on set.
See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline)
The Try Guys Address Removal of Ned Fulmer: “We Had No Idea This Was Going On”
The group said that by severing ties with Fulmer, it felt like they were losing a friend.
“That Is Not What We Stand For”
Digital comedy and sketch group The Try Guys posted a video on Monday night explaining the recent removal of member Ned Fulmer.
Last week, the Internet was filled with speculation that Fulmer, who is married with children, was having an affair with a staffer for The Try Guys. Fulmer confirmed the reports, claiming he had a “consensual workplace relationship.” The Try Guys quickly announced that Fulmer would no longer be working with the group as the result of an internal review.
In Monday’s video, the remaining three members, Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger, explained what led to their decision to remove Fulmer. While the trio noted there were legal issues that prevented them from sharing certain details, they wanted to be as transparent as possible.
“On Labor Day weekend, multiple fans alerted us that they had seen Ned and an employee engaging in public romantic behavior,” Habersberger explained. “We reached out to check on that employee and Ned confirmed the reports, and since confirmed that this had been going on for some time, which was obviously very shocking to us.”
He emphasized that the rest of the group “had no idea this was going on.”
After this, The Try Guys reached out to a variety of lawyers and HR professionals to make sure they handled the situation correctly.
“This is something we took very seriously,” Yang said. “We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.”
Removing Fulmer From Content
They decided to immediately remove Fulmer from work activities and hired an HR rep to conduct a review. Fulmer was also withdrawn from releases pending the results of that review.
As part of this, his video section was erased, he was digitally taken out of some content, and he was not included in merch drops. The Try Guys said this was a long and tedious process.
“Honestly, I want to give major props to our editing staff for how deftly they handled that,” Kornfeld said. “There are several videos that we have deemed as fully unreleasable, you will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that is a decision that has cost us lots of money.”
“We will not be able to recoup that money,” he continued. “But it’s a decision we stand by proudly.”
The group declined to share details of the review but claimed it found that Fulmer engaged in “conduct unbecoming” of the team. Because of this, Yang, Kornfeld, and Habersberger gave written consent on Sept. 16 to ax Fulmer as a manager and employee of The Try Guys company.
The three said they were always planning to make a public statement about their decision, but were initially waiting out of respect to the families and employees involved. As online speculation arose, they chose to deal with it sooner.
“We’re losing a friend, we’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with, we just made a TV show together,” Kornfeld said. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way.”
According to the group, some upcoming videos featuring Fulmer will be edited to remove him. They said they are currently taking time to reimagine their channel.
Bruce Willis Denies Rumors He Sold His Likeness For Deepfake Use
Deepfakes face criticism from Hollywood to social media.
Willis Debunks Rumors
Actor Bruce Willis denied rumors over the weekend that he sold his likeness to the deepfake company DeepCake.
Willis agreed last year for his face to be used in a commercial for a Russian telecoms company. For this commercial, DeepCake digitally edited Willis’ face onto a Russian actor. This sparked rumors that Willis had sold the rights to his likeness for the company to use in future projects.
However, both management for Willis and DeepCake itself denied any partnership or agreement for these rights.
“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” DeepCake said.
Agreements for the AI generation of actors have been heard of before, however. Recently, actor James Earl Jones agreed for his voice to be technologically generated for the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise.
This comes as deepfakes are facing mounting criticism online, including from prominent YouTube personality and author, Hank Green. He recently tweeted about a channel that uses similar deepfake technology and AI-voice generation to parody popular YouTube creators. He stressed his concern that while the channel in question may not be nefarious, this technology could end up being harmful.
“There are ways to do this that would be much worse, more mean spirited, and more exploitative than this,” Green said. “And I’m very worried about what that will look like, because if this is working (and allowed), people will do it.”
Among other issues, Green mentioned these videos could abuse monetization and sponsorship opportunities while exploiting someone else’s face and brand. Green even implored YouTube to evaluate its terms of service as the popularity of deepfakes rise.