MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A Memphis woman is at the center of the latest controversy surrounding the NFL’s most controversial player this summer.
The league has launched an investigation into allegations Patriots Wide Receiver Antonio Brown sexually assaulted his trainer and bible study partner.
This, after that Memphis woman, filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing Brown of sexually assaulting her twice in 2017 and rape a year later. Leaving many asking what took her so long to come forward.
Less than one percent of those accused of rape will be jailed, or even convicted of a felony. And according to the Justice Department, less than six percent of rapists will ever be arrested.
It’s stats like these that keep victims from reporting, and why experts said, they are even less likely to be reported when perpetrated by someone in the public eye.
“Of course she drops it the week of his first game with the Pats... trying hard to get that quick settlement.”
“I don’t believe her. Seems so sketchy. Legal bribery. Either pay or I go public and drag you through the mud.”
That’s just a snapshot of the things that were said about Antonio Brown’s accuser on social media in the hours after the news broke, he was being sued in federal civil court.
It’s also what sent Austin Eldridge, a Memphis-based radio host to Twitter, to defend the woman, he says he knows personally.
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“I’m here to defend her”, he tweeted Wednesday. “I typically don’t speak early in these cases. There are two sides to every story. But in this case, I know the woman. She's a kind, gentle, upstanding young woman. This is the hardest thing she's ever gone through. Coming forward for this wasn't ‘timed.’”
“How difficult is it for victims to come forward when it’s an assault involving a high-profile person,” I asked Shelby County Crime Victims Center Director, Sandy Bromley.
“A lot of times after an assault, victims feel a lot of shame, a lot of embarrassment, they may feel like they did something wrong. So, it can be really difficult for folks to come forward,” she answered.
Adding, “it can be even harder for victims whose offenders are high-profile or in the news all the time because the general public may believe them automatically or respect them automatically when the victim is saying this person did something really bad to me.”
In 22 years as a victim’s advocate, Bromley said she’s never experienced a victim publicly accuse someone of assault for financial gain.
“Who wants to share this information,” she asked. “It’s not something that is remotely easy to share with your family, your friends, let alone the entire world. If they’re willing to do that, let’s listen to them.”
We have reached out to the victim, who we are not identifying publicly, through Austin Eldridge, giving her a platform to share her side of the story. We have not heard back.
Antonio Brown claims the interactions were consensual and denies any allegations of assault.
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