Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been accused of inappropriately touching an Uber driver in a 2016 incident, Buzzfeed reports. The NFL is investigating the matter, and sent a letter to the Uber driver.
A letter, viewed by BuzzFeed News, was 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.
The driver alleges that Winston grabbed her crotch while they were waiting at a drive-through, and didn’t remove it until she spoke up. He had earlier shouted homophobic slurs from the vehicle, the driver said. Winston was sitting in the front seat of the car.
Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, denied the allegation on behalf of the Buccaneers quarterback, claiming that the driver was unable to identify the “specific individual” who grabbed her crotch. Spielman did admit that it was Winston’s Uber account that was used for the ride.
"We categorically deny this allegation. 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 driver reported the incident to Uber, though she did not go to the police or consent to having her full name published in fear of backlash from football fans. She did tell five other individuals, who all corroborated the story to Buzzfeed. Uber permanently banned Winston from their platform in response to the incident.
Winston was accused of rape while at Florida State University. The quarterback was never charged with a crime in relation to that incident, though the investigation by local police was heavily flawed. Stemming from that accusation, Winston and his accuser settled a civil suit last December.
Update: Winston put out another statement denying the allegation. “I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her,” the statement reads in part.