An allegation that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston groped an Uber driver in March 2016 is under review by the NFL.
Talal Ansari of BuzzFeed News reported on Friday that the driver received a letter from NFL special counsel for investigations Lisa Friel informing her that the league has heard about the allegations and “opened an investigation into this matter.” A spokesperson for the NFL told PFT on Friday that the matter is under review and that the NFL has reached out to Uber to request any information they may have.
The driver, identified only as Kate, says that she picked up Winston around 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13 in Scottsdale, Arizona and that Winston sat in the front passenger seat next to her. She says Winston asked to get food at a drive-thru restaurant and, per the driver, Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch” while they were waiting for it to be delivered. She claims Winston held his hand there for three to five seconds.
She reported the incident to Uber, but told Ansari she did not go to police because she was afraid of negative backlash if she went that route. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for Uber said “the rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident.”
Russ Spielman, one of Winston’s agents, said that a call from BuzzFeed News was the first he’d heard about the allegations and didn’t have any other comment. BuzzFeed News Deputy News Director Tom Namako later posted a statement from Winston’s representatives on Twitter.
“We categorically deny this allegation. It is our understanding the uber driver was unable to identify the specific individual who allegedly touched this driver … The only reason his name is being dragged in to this is that his uber account was used to call the ride.”
Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said on Friday, via Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times, the team will issue a statement on the matter.
This is not the first time that Winston has been accused of sexual impropriety. In 2016, he settled a civil suit filed by a woman who accused him of raping her in 2012 while he was at Florida State. He was never charged with a crime by Tallahassee, Florida police in that matter.