Patriots release Antonio Brown after claims of sexual misconduct, intimidation of accuser

The New England Patriots released wide receiver Antonio Brown on Friday, 11 days after he formally joined the club following a well-publicized breakup with the Oakland Raiders.

“The New England Patriots are releasing Antonio Brown,” a club spokesperson said. “We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move forward in a different direction at this time.”

Since Brown was placed on New England’s active roster Sept. 9, two women have come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against him. One of the women, a former trainer of Brown, filed a civil suit in South Florida federal court alleging that Brown raped her. Another woman, a painter, told Sports Illustrated that Brown exposed himself to her while she was working on a mural at his Pittsburgh home two years ago.

On Thursday, Sports Illustrated reported that the painter “received a group text message that appeared to come from the same phone number Brown provided to her in 2017. The text chain, with four other phone numbers on it, included photos of her and her children, with the person she believes is Brown encouraging others in the group to investigate the woman. The texter accused the artist of fabricating her account of the 2017 incident for cash.”

Brown, who has denied any wrongdoing, appeared to take his release in stride, tweeting: “Thanks for the opportunity appreciate @Patriots” alongside pictures of him talking to head coach Bill Belichick and hugging quarterback Tom Brady during last week’s 43-0 win over the Miami Dolphins. In that game, Brown caught four passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.

Brown’s release was announced hours after Belichick cut short his scheduled Friday press conference following repeated questions about Brown. In an opening statement, the coach said, “there are some things that we are looking into, but I’m not going to comment on any of the off-the-field situations or questions on that.”

After a series of questions from reporters about Brown and his potential availability for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets, Belichick walked out of the press room, saying: “I’m good. Thank you.”

Brown spoke to reporters Thursday for the first time since joining the Patriots. He took only four questions and declined to discuss the accusations.

New England reached a one-year deal with Brown on Sept. 7, hours after he was released by Oakland. The 31-year-old was traded to the Raiders in March after wearing out his welcome with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was a four-time All-Pro in nine seasons. He signed a deal with the Raiders that would have paid him up to $50 million, but he quarreled with management and never made it onto the field in the silver and black.

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