The NFL is investigating Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston after an Uber driver accused him of groping her in 2016, according to BuzzFeed News. The Uber driver says that Winston grabbed her between the legs while he sat in the passenger’s seat of her car. On Friday, Winston denied the allegations. He said that his Uber account was used to hail the ride in question but that he was not the only passenger, did not sit in the passenger’s seat, and did not make “inappropriate contact” with the driver.
The details of the allegation are as follows: An Uber driver named Kate (who has chosen to withhold her last name over fear of potential backlash) was called to downtown Scottsdale, Arizona, around 2 a.m. Mountain Time on March 13, 2016. She says that, upon her arrival, a group of men informed her that she would be driving Winston, whom they made clear was famous. Kate alleges that Winston entered the front seat as the only passenger in the car and that he immediately “behaved poorly,” including shouting anti-gay slurs at pedestrians.
Per the report, Winson then requested to stop for food, and Kate drove to a nearby Mexican restaurant. While the car waited in the drive-through queue, Kate alleges that Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch” for three to five seconds. Kate says that she asked Winston, “What’s up with that?” before he pulled back his hand.
“I wasn’t just creeped out,” Kate told BuzzFeed of the incident. “I was frozen. … I mean he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 ft 6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze.”
Kate reported what happened to Uber directly after the ride, as displayed in the following screenshot:
Winston responded to the allegations in a statement posted to Facebook:
The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver. I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her. The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately. At the time of the alleged incident, I denied the allegations to Uber, yet they still decided to suspend my account.
Russ Spielman, a representative for Winston, gave a statement to BuzzFeed:
We categorically deny this allegation. It is our understanding the Uber driver was unable to identify the specific individual who allegedly touched this driver inappropriately. The only reason his name is being dragged in to this is that his uber account was used to call the ride.
Tweets confirm that Winston was in the Scottsdale area on Saturday, March 12, 2016, and attended former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner’s charity flag football tournament. The incident with the Uber driver is alleged to have happened less than 24 hours later. Winston was accused of sexual assault as a student at Florida State in 2012; local prosecutors declined to file charges in that case, citing a lack of evidence. The Tallahassee Police Department’s handling of that investigation has been widely criticized.
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told BuzzFeed that the allegations against Winston are “under review.” The Buccaneers also released a statement: