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Commanders release Brandon McManus after sexual assault trial

The Washington Commanders released kicker Brandon McManus on Sunday after he was accused by two women of sexually assaulting them during a robbery last season while he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The women, who were identified as Jane Doe I and Jane Doe II in a lawsuit filed in Duval County (Fla.) Circuit Civil Court late last month, allege that McManus rubbed against them during the Jaguars charter flight to London on September 28. The women worked as flight attendants for Atlas Air, according to the complaint. The Jaguars were on their way to play games in London against the Atlanta Falcons and Buffalo Bills.

The women claim the flight “quickly turned into a party” as McManus and other players violated air travel security rules. According to the lawsuit, McManus “recruited” three other flight attendants and handed out $100 bills to encourage them to drink and “dance inappropriately for him.”

In a statement Sunday evening, McManus’ attorney, Brett R. Gallaway, responded to commanders’ decision to release his client.

“Brandon would like to thank the commanders in Washington for the opportunity to be a part of the organization,” he said. “However, we reiterate that the allegations against Brandon are and remain absolutely false and, importantly, are contradicted by indisputable evidence and by the accusers’ own inconsistent prior statements and omissions. While we are disappointed in the team’s decision to release Brandon before he has had the opportunity to defend himself against these fabricated allegations, we will aggressively defend and clear Brandon’s name and reputation through the legal process. We intend to reject these claims, exonerate him completely and look forward to seeing him back on the field where he belongs.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said Monday, when news of the lawsuit broke, that the league was aware of the situation and had been in contact with the commanders, who acknowledged in a statement by the through a spokesperson that evening that they had been informed of the trial earlier. That day. “We take allegations of this nature very seriously and are investigating the matter,” the statement said. The Jaguars, who were named as defendants in the lawsuit, said Monday that they were aware of the complaint and recognized “the importance of the claims.”

According to the court filing, Jane Doe I accused McManus of trying to kiss her while she was strapped into the jump seat amid turbulence during the flight. The woman allegedly raised her hand to block McManus’ unwanted advance.

McManus grabbed Jane Doe I and rubbed against her twice while she was serving meals on board, according to the lawsuit, adding that during the first instance she made eye contact with another player of the Jaguars who seemed ashamed of his teammate’s behavior. The second instance occurred under similar circumstances, according to the lawsuit: Jane Doe, I was serving the second meal on board, and McManus again grabbed her by the waist and “rubbed his clothed but erect penis on her.” many times “.

Jane Doe II claimed that McManus acted similarly toward her during the second in-flight service. According to the complaint, he pressed himself against Jane Doe II and she was unable to push him away because she was holding a tray in the kitchen aisle. When Jane Doe II turned around and confronted McManus, he “smiled and walked away,” according to the filing.

The women say they suffered “pain and suffering, psychological and emotional distress, mental anguish, embarrassment and humiliation.” They are seeking damages in excess of $1 million and a jury trial. McManus and the Jaguars have until June 17 to respond to the complaint.

The Jaguars were accused of negligence for failing to properly hire McManus, educate him about inappropriate sexual contact, supervise his in-flight conduct, create and implement a zero-tolerance policy for inappropriate behavior and to create a safe environment for aircraft personnel.

In an interview with “The Junkies” on 106.7 the Fan on Thursday, Tony Buzbee, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, alleged that McManus brought alcohol on the team plane, which the NFL prohibits.

“I know that alcohol was brought on board the plane and I know that there were exchanges between the flight attendants and some of the players, including, it appears, Mr. McManus.” , Buzbee said. “He was like, ‘I know you can’t pour my liquor, but at least you can pour my chaser?’ – that kind of stupidity. There will be witnesses who will talk about how drunk and intoxicated some people were and how they became so intoxicated so quickly during the flight.

The NFL prohibits alcohol in team facilities and while traveling to or from games, a rule it outlined in a 2022 memo after then-Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke , was photographed with a beer in hand during a post-match flight. The Florida court filing also alleges the women could smell marijuana coming from the plane’s bathroom.

Buzbee told 106.7 that Lisa Friel, the special counsel handling the NFL’s investigations, contacted him shortly after the filing, hoping to speak with her clients. Buzbee also claimed in an Instagram post last week that before filing suit, his company attempted to resolve the matter outside of the court system.

“Our resolution efforts were met with arrogance, ignorance and stupidity, strikingly similar to how Deshaun Watson’s team reacted when we tried to resolve these cases before the case was filed.” , wrote Buzbee, who represented all but one of the quarterback’s sexual misconduct accusers.

McManus signed a one-year contract with the Jaguars in 2023 after spending the previous nine seasons with the Denver Broncos, helping them to a Super Bowl 50 victory during the 2015 season. New Commanders general manager , Adam Peters, was Denver’s assistant director of college scouting at the time.

McManus signed a one-year, $3.6 million contract with the Commanders in March to replace Joey Slye. By releasing McManus, the Commanders may have to burn through as much as $1.5 million in dead salary cap money from his signing bonuses. It could be less, however, depending on the forfeiture clauses in his contract and whether McManus violated it by not informing commanders of the alleged incident before signing.

In his interview with The Junkies, Buzbee said the plaintiffs worked with another attorney before turning to him, but after he took over, he sent letters to McManus’ agent and the Jaguars.

“When I couldn’t find a solid address (for McManus), we sent it to his agent. And once we sent it to his agent, we got his attention pretty quickly,” Buzbee said. “We also sent it to the Jaguars organization, but I think we only sent it to them a week before the lawsuit was filed.”

For more than six years, Washington relied on Dustin Hopkins as a kicker, but a series of failures led to his departure at the start of the 2021 season and a carousel of replacements. There was a failed experiment with Chris Blewitt that season (three missed goals in two games), an interim stint with Brian Johnson while Slye was recovering from injury, then two pretty decent years with Slye before the arrival by McManus.

Washington will now look for another kicker, with limited and proven options available at this point in the offseason.

News Source : www.washingtonpost.com
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