Boston Globe By Stephanie Ebbert, Danny McDonald and Sofia Saric
September 23, 2019
Debra S. Katz said Friday the league acted quickly after her client filed a complaint with the NFL, after a Sports Illustrated article on Thursday detailed Brown allegedly making an unwanted sexual advance.
In the wake of that article, Brown allegedly sent threatening texts to the accuser that “included things about her children that we thought were inappropriate,” said Katz, who has also represented Christine Blasey Ford, the California psychologist who told a Senate committee last year that Brett Kavanaugh, now a Supreme Court justice, sexually assaulted her decades ago when they were both teenagers.
The league has said it is probing the texts in question. The NFL was already investigating Brown after he was accused of rape and sexual assault in a civil lawsuit filed in Florida last week.
“We were told that the NFL spoke to the Patriots last night and that they were going to ensure that he would cease any kind of communication with our clients and essentially call off his associates who he seemed to try to get whipped up to do something with respect to our client and potentially her children,” said Katz on Friday. “And we were told that the Patriots were taking this seriously.”
Katz’s client, an artist who asked not be identified, was commissioned by Brown in 2017 to paint a mural at his Pennsylvania home. She said she was kneeling while working on the mural when she turned to find Brown standing naked before her with a small hand towel over his genitals.
The woman has not pursued legal action against Brown or sought any financial compensation. Yet Brown, according to texts published by Sports Illustrated, wrote to her, “Really sad you would make up bull [expletive] story to the world thought you had more integrity n respect for yourself must be really hard times for [you] to make up some stuff for money.’’
Brown also allegedly posted a picture of the artist’s children and wrote, “Those her kids . . . she’s awfully broke clearly.’’
Katz indicated her client was cooperating with the NFL probe.
“In this instance, the NFL acted promptly and they expressed serious concern about what happened with our client,” said Katz.
She added, “They behaved as we would want any institution to behave and the NFL has not always done the right thing here.”
Katz also noted that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a reputation for dealing with “difficult personalities” and making sure players follow the rules.
“Within days of being on the roster, he immediately takes to his text message and shows that he’s not willing to focus on football,” she said. “Instead, he seemed to be quite eager to try to intimidate this woman.”
Local advocates for sexual assault and domestic violence also reacted to the Patriots releasing Brown Friday.
Debra Robbin, executive director for Jane Doe Inc., a statewide advocacy and membership organization addressing sexual assault and domestic violence, thought either the team or the league should have suspended Brown while the civil case proceeds.
“The lack of action made it appear that it doesn’t really matter what someone does, it matters if what they can do for the team,” she said.
Robbin said there should be a “process that doesn’t prioritize keeping players on the field as an end goal.”
The Patriots releasing Brown “doesn’t really make any statement about accountability,” she said.
“He can be signed by another team,” she said. “He can become someone else’s issue to deal with.”
Erinn Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), welcomed the news of Brown’s release.
“It took long enough, but the Patriots made the right decision in the end to release Antonio Brown,” said Robinson.
Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, said Friday, “The days of looking the other way when it comes to sexual assault, harassment, and abuse are gone.”
She added, “In general, one of the most important things workplaces can do is be clear about expectations for employee conduct and hold them accountable when they fall short.”
Meanwhile, near the TD Garden Friday, Patriots fans also had thoughts on Brown’s brief tenure in Foxborough.
Clemente Tagliaferro, of Boston, said “actions do have consequences.”
“You can’t confuse skill with personal life,” said Tagliaferro. “Yes, the Patriots looked a little bad signing him in the first place because Brown was known as a bit of a bad boy, but New England is known for giving good players second chances.”
Another Boston resident, Sammy Gomez, said Brown was “a great player but a troublemaker.” She said she hasn’t been following the allegations closely enough “to know if him being let go from the team is fair.”
“The Patriots are the most loved team and the most hated team, so they’ll always have controversy,” said Gomez.
Dorchester resident Patrick Sullivan said New England always does “what’s right for the team.”
“The Patriots did the right thing letting Brown go,” he said.