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Antonio Brown released by the Patriots

(CNN) — The New England Patriots have released wide receiver Antonio Brown, the team announced Friday.

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

Brown took to Twitter on Friday afternoon, thanking the Patriots for the opportunity and saying, “The marathon continues.”

This follows an NFL investigation into a lawsuit by Brown’s former trainer, claiming the football player sexually assaulted her on three occasions in 2017 and 2018, according to ESPN.

The New York Times reports that Brown hired the plaintiff, a gymnast named Britney Taylor, after meeting her while the two attended Central Michigan.

The paper first reported the lawsuit, filed in Florida’s Southern District, which claims Brown sexually assaulted her twice in June 2017.  The first incident was during a training session when the NFL star allegedly exposed himself and forcibly kissed her, the suit claims.

Later that month, Taylor was watching television at his home when Brown, while standing behind her, allegedly masturbated and ejaculated on her back. The lawsuit claims Brown later sent text messages about the incident, which are included in the filing.

In May of 2018, Brown is accused of raping Taylor after convincing her to work for him again. The lawsuit claims he “forced her down onto a bed, pushed her face into the mattress, and forcibly raped her” while she shouted “no” and “stop.”

On Tuesday, Taylor said in a statement:

“As a rape victim of Antonio Brown, deciding to speak out has been an incredibly difficult decision… Speaking out removes the shame that I have felt for the past year and places it on the person responsible for my rape. I will cooperate with the NFL and any other agencies; however, at this time, I respectfully request that the media please respect my privacy.”

Brown’s defense attorney, Darren Heitner, also issued a statement saying that the Patriots receiver “denies all of the accuser’s allegations” and that “any sexual interaction with Mr. Brown was entirely consensual.”

See the full statement here:

Brown had become a highly controversial figure after his tense departure from the Pittsburgh Steelers, followed by another high-profile exit from the Oakland Raiders, from whom he never played a game.

Brown was signed by the Patriots shortly after his release by the Raiders.

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