Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been accused of groping an Uber driver in 2016, and the NFL is investigating the allegation, according to BuzzFeed News.
"The matter is under review," Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, told BuzzFeed News. "The allegation was shared with the NFL and we have reached out to Uber to request any information they may have."
A female Uber driver named Kate picked Winston up at around 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, 2016, in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona.
Winston was the only passenger, and he sat in the front passenger seat. Kate claims Winston was behaving belligerently, including yelling homophobic slurs at pedestrians.
While they were waiting in a drive-thru line of Los Betos Mexican food, Kate said “he reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” and held his hand there for three to five seconds.
“I wasn’t just creeped out, I was frozen,” Kate said, describing Winston as “very physically imposing” and saying she was scared of provoking an unwanted reaction out of him.
Reporting the incident to Uber
Kate, who no longer drives for Uber, reported the incident to Uber later in the day. An Uber representative responded by recommending Kate contact law enforcement, and ensuring that she would not be matched with Winston for future rides. Winston was banned from the Uber app shortly after the incident.
Kate did not report the incident to the police because she did not want her identity to become public because of the situation. Contemporaneous text messages and conversations with friends about the incident with Winston were verified by BuzzFeed.
She said she doesn't want money, but she feels empowered by other women coming forward with their stories and now wants to tell the truth about what happened to her.
“He sexually assaulted me, and I have every right to tell the damn truth about it," Kate said to BuzzFeed.
Winston denies the accusation
Winston published a statement on Twitter, fully denying Kate’s accusation.
“A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago. 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.”
"I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false. While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way."
Winston was accused of rape in 2012 while he was a student at Florida State University. He settled a civil lawsuit with his accuser in 2013.
Florida State also settled a lawsuit with the accuser, paying her $950,000 after it was found that the university and local police did “little to determine what happened in the Winston case.”