Patriots start season at No. 1 in AP Pro32 poll

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick watches from the sideline in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the New York Giants, Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in Foxboro.

FOXBORO — It lasted but four minutes and it wasn’t pretty.

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s weekly pre-game press conference Wednesday at Gillette Stadium was heated and quickly over as reporters grilled him about newly acquired receiver Antonio Brown.

Belichick was not asked a single question about the upcoming Miami Dolphins game, but instead about Brown — the controversial, 31-year-old former Oakland Raiders player whom the Patriots acquired on Saturday and who was accused on Tuesday of sexually assaulting his former trainer, Britney Taylor.

“On the Antonio (Brown) situation, both Antonio and his representatives have made statements,” Belichick said. “I’m not going to be expanding on any of those. They are what they are. We’ve looked into the situation. We’re taking it very seriously, all the way through the organization.”

Belichick was asked if Brown had told the Patriots about the allegations prior to the team signing him to a one-year deal worth up to $15 million just 40 hours prior.

“Yeah, I’m done with that,” Belichick said. “Anything else on Miami? Any other questions?”

Belichick got into a rebuttal with the same reporter, who followed up to say that he didn’t answer the question.

“Actually, I did,” Belichick said before walking away from the podium and ending the press conference. Normally such press conferences last 10 to 15 minutes. Wednesday’s lasted four.

Belichick, when asked if he thought the fans deserved to know more, said “When we know more, we’ll say more. I just said that.”

Belichick said he expected Brown to be at practice on Wednesday, which was set to begin at approximately 12:50 p.m., but did not expand on if Brown will play in Miami on Sunday.

“We’re taking it one day at a time,” Belichick said. “Just like we always do. We’re preparing one day at a time.”

The lawsuit against Brown, which was filed Tuesday in the Southern District of Florida, says that Brown sexually assaulted Taylor, a gymnast he met while they were attending Central Michigan together and whom he later hired as a trainer. The lawsuit accuses Brown of three separate assaults, two in June 2017 and another in May 2018.

Brown, through his lawyer, Darren Heitner, has denied the accusations.

The suit, first reported by The New York Times, claims Brown sexually assaulted Taylor twice during training sessions in June 2017, exposing himself and kissing her without permission. Later in June 2017, the lawsuit says, Brown started masturbating behind Taylor and ejaculated on her back while the two were together in his South Florida home. The lawsuit also contains images of profane messages Taylor claims Brown sent to her about the incident.

Taylor later ended her working relationship with Brown, according to the lawsuit, but several months later he contacted her to apologize and, the lawsuit says, she was “swayed by his assurance that he would cease any sexual advances.”

But, Taylor claims, he did not and on May 20, 2018, “forcibly” raped her after pushing her face down on a bed. Taylor, in the lawsuit, said she tried to resist him, screaming and repeatedly shouting “no” and “stop,” but Brown refused to free her and penetrated her.

Brown’s lawyer, in a statement, acknowledged at least one instance when the two engaged in consensual sex.

“Any sexual interaction with Mr. Brown was entirely consensual,” the lawyer said in the statement.

Brown was with the Pittsburgh Steelers for nine years and was named to the Pro Bowl for seven of those years. But he pushed the Steelers to be traded and in 2018 was hired by the Oakland Raiders.

But Brown barely played. He sat out most of training camp, because of a foot injury reportedly sustained in a cryogenic chamber. He was also benched because of his refusal to wear the helmet required by the NFL, choosing his own instead.

The Raiders ended up fining Brown $54,000 for failing to practice and “conduct detrimental to the team.” Brown posted the letter to his Instagram account and, on Instagram, asked the Raiders to cut him.

Sean McGuire is a sports writer with the Sun Chronicle and the Foxboro Reporter and can be followed on Twitter at @BySeanMcGuire.

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