Winston faces groping claim by Uber driver
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The NFL is investigating an allegation that Jameis Winston groped a female Uber driver in 2016, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback has denied the allegation on his social media accounts.
The Buccaneers acknowledged the allegation Friday and released a statement saying they are in the “process of obtaining further information regarding today’s media report. We take these matters seriously and are fully supportive of the investigation that is being conducted by the NFL.”
The NFL also released a statement saying that it has reached out to Uber to request more information.
The Uber driver told BuzzFeed News that the incident stems from a 2 a.m. ride after a party in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 13, 2016. The driver said Winston was the only passenger, and that he sat in the front seat and was yelling homophobic slurs at pedestrians. She said he then asked the driver to stop for food, and while waiting in a drive-thru, reached over and placed his hand on her crotch.
A representative for Winston, Russ Spielman, issued a statement denying the allegations. He said the only reason Winston’s name is attached to the allegation is because his Uber account was used to call the ride.
Winston reiterated his denial in postings on Twitter and Instagram on Friday.
“A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago,” the quarterback wrote. “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 has been at the center of a previous sexual assault allegation.
He and Erica Kinsman, who said Winston raped her while both attended Florida State, settled a civil lawsuit in December that she had brought against him. Winston said Kinsman’s allegations stemming from a 2012 encounter were false and that he and Kinsman had consensual sex, and countersued.
Charges were never brought against Winston as prosecutors said there wasn’t enough evidence in the case to win a conviction and there were gaps in Kinsman’s story.
Winston is in his third season with the Buccaneers after being taken with the first overall pick of the 2015 draft.