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Legal expert: Patriots, NFL should let Brown play amid sexual assault allegations

Patriots: New England Nation

New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown works out during NFL football practice, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. Brown to practiced with the team for the first time on Wednesday afternoon, a day after his former trainer filed a civil lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida accusing him of sexually assaulting her on three occasions. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — As the New England Patriots and NFL decide how to handle rape allegations against wide receiver Antonio Brown, one legal expert says Brown should be allowed to play while the civil suit unfolds.

According to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday in Florida, Brown is accused of raping a 28-year old woman who was a college classmate and his former trainer. The woman says Brown sexually assaulted and raped her on three occasions in June 2017 and May 2018.

The Washington Post reports the league is “seriously considering” placing Brown – who is not facing criminal charges – on the commissioner’s exempt list, meaning he’d be paid but unable to play in games or participate in team activities.

Bryant University Professor of Legal Studies Ron Washburn said while he thinks the NFL and the Patriots have to take the allegations very seriously, making him sit out now would be premature.

“I think you have to play him,” Washburn said. “You do what you can with your assets for as long as you can. Then, once information comes out to the contrary, that there should be some discipline, then I would hope that we would all agree, especially in these sex-based cases, if there were something to come out, if he were liable for something, then they would need to react accordingly.”

Brown has denied the allegations but is taking them very seriously, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. Speaking to ESPN on Wednesday, Rosenhaus called the lawsuit a “money grab,” saying the claims are false and his legal team has the facts to prove that.

“They are not true. Absolutely not true,” Rosenhaus said, adding that he believes Brown will be cleared of wrongdoing.

Brown, who is among the most talented, yet troubled, receivers in the NFL, was drafted by the Steelers in 2010. He was released by the Oakland Raiders Saturday, just months after he was traded by the Steelers.

The Patriots officially announced Monday the team signed Brown to a one-year deal worth $15 million.

It is unclear if Brown, who did practice with the team this week, will play when the Patriots travel to Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins Sunday.

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