BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots did not know about Antonio Brown’s impending sexual assault lawsuit before signing the receiver, according to a report by ESPN.

Brown’s former trainer, Britney Taylor, filed a civil complaint against Brown earlier this week, accusing the receiver of sexually assaulting her multiple times in 2017 and 2018. Brown has denied all the allegations.

According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Brown and Taylor were in discussions over the past few months, but had agreed that their communication would remain confidential until Taylor filed the lawsuit on Tuesday. That explains why the Patriots and Raiders, Brown’s former team, were unaware of the impending lawsuit.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick came under fire earlier this weekend when he wouldn’t elaborate on whether or not he knew of the accusations before signing Brown last weekend. Belichick said the Patriots were taking the matter “very seriously,” but the head coach became testy when reporters continued to pepper him with questions about Brown.

Belichick will chat with reporters again on Friday morning.

The NFL is expected to meet with Taylor next week, and will talk with Brown at some point in the near future. The league has the option to place Brown on the Commissioner’s Exempt List during their investigation, which would prohibit Brown from playing for New England but he would still get paid. That decision isn’t expected to come until next week, so it appears likely that Brown will make his debut for the Patriots on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

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