In this Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017, file photo, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) watches from the sideline during the second half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)
Alex Makrides, Palm Beach Post
Update 2:27 p.m. EDT Nov. 17: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston on Friday denied that he groped a female Uber driver in 2016, saying in a statement that he believes “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.”
The driver, who was not identified, told BuzzFeed that Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch” as they were waiting for food in the drive-thru of a Mexican restaurant.
“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,” Winston said. “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.”
Lisa Friel, a member of the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, sent a letter to the female Uber driver on Thursday confirming that the NFL is looking into the matter, according to the report.
The female Uber driver told BuzzFeed News that she picked up Winston in the early hours of the morning on March 13 in Scottsdale, Arizona. She said that Winston “behaved poorly” immediately when he entered her vehicle.
Later in the drive, when they waited for food at a Mexican restaurant drive-thru, Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” the woman told BuzzFeed.
Soon after the ride, the driver filed a formal complaint with the company, writing that “apparently a big athlete in the NFL” reached over “and put his fingers on my crotch.”
“It wasn’t my stomach or thigh, it was my crotch and I want to be clear about that,” she added in the complaint. “He is NOT safe for other drivers.”
“The behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong,” an Uber spokesperson said Friday in a statement. “The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident.”
Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, issued a statement denying the allegations, saying 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.”
While at Florida State, Winston was accused of raping a female student. The alleged assault, which occurred in 2012, was not made public until 2013 amid the controversy of a cover-up by the school and Tallahassee police.
The woman in the case, Erica Kinsman, sued the University. In 2016, she and Florida State reached a settlement that would pay her $950,000.
Winston is currently sidelined with a shoulder injury.
The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.