Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is reportedly being investigated by the NFL for allegedly groping a female Uber driver back in 2016, per Talal Ansari of BuzzFeed News.
The Uber driver, Kate, told BuzzFeed News that she picked Winston up in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona early in the morning on Sunday, March 13, 2016. She says Winston started “behaving poorly” by shouting homophobic slurs at people walking on the streeet as soon as she started driving.
The woman further alleges Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” and held his hand there a few seconds, only removing it after she “looked up in shock and said, ‘What’s up with that?’”
“I wasn’t just creeped out,” said Kate, who had been driving with Uber for more than two years at that point. (She no longer drives for the service.) “I was frozen.” She described Winston as “very physically imposing. I mean he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 ft 6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze,” she said, worried that she might provoke an unwanted reaction.
The NFL is investigating this incident, per BuzzFeed News, which viewed the letter sent from the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, Lisa Friel, to the Uber driver on Thursday.
“The League has been informed that you may have been the victim of such a violation perpetrated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Jameis Winston. The league takes allegations of this nature very seriously and has opened an investigation into this matter,” the letter read.
Per BuzzFeed News, Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, “categorically” denied the allegation in a statement, writing “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.”
The woman says she isn’t looking for money. She said, per BuzzFeed News, that this is about telling the truth “about a powerful man who felt entitled to my body when all I wanted to do was my job. …He sexually assaulted me, and I have every right to tell the damn truth about it.”
Kate also filed an incident report with Uber after transporting Winston and the passengers he was with, noting “apparently a big athlete in the NFL” had reached over “and put his fingers on my crotch.” She added, “…it wasn’t my stomach or thigh, it was my crotch and I want to be clear about that.” Kate ended her incident report with Uber stating, “He is NOT safe for other drivers.”
Winston was eventually banned from Uber, which removed him from the app and ride-sharing service.
As pointed out by BuzzFeed News, Winston was documented as being in the Scottsdale area on March 12, 2016, for a flag football charity event.
— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) March 12, 2016
Winston settled a lawsuit later in 2016 with a woman who accused him of rape in 2012.