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  • Two days after Sports Illustrated’s story about Antonio Brown, the Patriots receiver allegedly included an accuser in a series of text messages claiming she was only out for money, asking others to look into her background, and including a photo of her kids. Through her lawyer, the woman has now asked the NFL to intervene.
By Robert Klemko
September 19, 2019

Update: The New England Patriots have released Antonio Brown.

A woman who says Antonio Brown made an unwanted sexual advance toward her in 2017 and was fired after not reciprocating received what she characterized as intimidating texts from the Patriots wide receiver on Wednesday night in the wake of a Sports Illustrated story detailing her allegations, according to her lawyer in a letter sent to the NFL on Thursday evening, which included screen shots of the messages.

The woman previously told SI that Brown had hired her two years ago to paint a mural of him in his home but “ghosted” her after she ignored his advance. On Wednesday night, the woman says, she 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. (In her letter to the league, the woman’s attorney repeated that the artist is not seeking remuneration from Brown in connection with the alleged incident.)

The texter described the artist as a “super broke girl” and asked someone he refers to as “Eric B” to “look up her background history.” He then sent a screenshot of an Instagram photo she had posted showing the faces of her young children, adding “those her kids... she’s awful broke clearly.”

Sports Illustrated has reviewed screenshots of the texts and confirmed that they were apparently sent from the same number Brown used to communicate with the artist in 2017, which was provided to her in a direct message from his verified Instagram account. Brown's lawyer, Darren Heitner, who was included in the group text but did not respond to the messages, said he had not advised Brown to communicate with the woman. He otherwise declined comment. 

On Thursday evening, Lisa J. Banks, a lawyer for the artist, sent a letter to the NFL seeking an end to what she termed conduct by Brown that is “intimidating and threatening to our client, in violation of the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.”

“Our client ... is understandably frightened by these text messages, which are clearly intended to threaten and intimidate her,” the lawyer wrote. “While she certainly qualifies as a ‘starving artist,’ she has never approached Mr. Brown, nor will she, about seeking money to compensate her for his sexual misconduct, contrary to his allegations in the text messages.”

The NFL responded to the letter within the hour, arranging for a phone call between investigators and the attorneys for the artist, according to a source with knowledge of the arrangement. The Patriots and Brown’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, did not respond to SI’s requests for comment. 

“This sort of intimidation and harassment is the reason victims are often so reluctant to step forward in these cases,” Banks told Sports Illustrated. “We have confidence the NFL and the Patriots will step in and end this behavior.”

Asked via text to confirm or deny the details of the woman’s charge of intimidation, the respondent at the number purported to be Brown’s replied “foh clown.” (“FOH” is a popular acronym for the phrase “get the f--- out of here.”)

Included in the group text were three other numbers besides those of Heitner and, allegedly, Brown. In the exchange, two of the respondents agreed to look into the woman’s background. One of the phone numbers is registered to a Brian Davis, the same name as a man described as one of Brown’s close confidants, who, as previously reported, allegedly told a chef hosting Brown’s Pro Bowl party in Orlando last year, “When you speak to Mr. Brown you don’t look him in the eye.”

In a story published this week on SI.com, the unnamed artist, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about her interaction with Brown, says she was contracted to paint a mural of Brown in his home after he’d agreed to purchase another painting by her at a charity auction. The artist says Brown agreed to a daily fee of $1,000 for her work and sent a van to transport her, along with some of his friends and associates, from New York City to western Pennsylvania.

On her second day at Brown’s home, the artist told SI she was in a kneeling position while painting when she turned to find Brown behind her, naked, holding a small hand towel over his genitals. “He was flirty with me, but I paid him no mind because I was there on business—plus I had already seen him with multiple girls in the short time I was with him,” said the woman. “I was about 40% done on the second day, and I’m on my knees painting the bottom, and he walks up to me butt-ass naked, with a hand cloth covering his [penis] and starts having a conversation with me.” She took it as a clear sexual come-on.

“Unfortunately, I’ve been tried [by men] a lot of times, so I just kept my cool and kept painting,” she says. “After that, it all ended abruptly.” After the SI story posted, Brown’s lawyer, Heitner, tweeted that Brown “denies that he ever engaged in such activities.”

Brown paid the artist $2,000 for two days’ work and ceased further contact with her, she says. The National Youth Foundation says Brown never paid the $700 for the painting for which he’d successfully bid at the auction.

Interviewed by reporters on Thursday for the first time since his debut for the Patriots, Brown was asked if he’d heard any news from the league about his availability in the wake of a 10-hour interview at NFL headquarters with Britney Taylor, the woman who has filed a civil suit accusing Brown of rape. Said Brown: “I appreciate that question. I’m just here to just focus on ball and look forward to get out there in the home stadium with the team.”

Question or comment? Email us at talkback@themmqb.com.

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