Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is under investigation by the NFL since allegations have surfaced that he groped an Uber driver in 2016.
According to BuzzFeed, Liesa Friel, the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, sent a letter to a female Uber driver, identified only as “Kate,” informing her that the league is investigating an incident she says happened in the early hours of Sunday, March 13, 2016, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Kate alleges that she was driving in downtown Scottsdale when she received a notification. When she arrived to pick up the passenger, two men placed Winston in her front seat and, she says, Winston yelled homophobic slurs out the window at pedestrians as she chauffeured the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner.
The driver says that Winston asked her to stop for food at a Mexican restaurant and that as they waited in the drive-thru, Winston reached over and grabbed her crotch for three or four seconds, asking her, “What’s up with that?”
“I wasn’t just creeped out,” she reported, “I was frozen.”
Kate says that Winston finally moved his hand when he saw that she was shocked by his actions. “I mean, he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 feet 6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze,” she said.
Kate filed a report of the incident with Uber as soon as the ride ended. The incident report, obtained by BuzzFeed, indicated Winston “put his fingers on [Kate’s] crotch,” with the driver adding “ ... it wasn’t my stomach or thigh, it was my crotch, and I want to be clear about that.”
The Uber complaint ended with her writing: “He is NOT safe for other drivers.”
After hearing about the allegations, Winston issued a statement via Twitter:
A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago. 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.
In 2016, Winston settled a federal lawsuit with a woman who accused him of sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress on her when he was a player at Florida State University. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed, but Florida State paid the same woman $950,000 to settle a lawsuit against the school concerning its handling of the case.
Kate says the recent spate of women stepping up regarding sexual harassment and assault gave her the courage to speak out about the alleged occurrence.
“I have been empowered by my sisters who have forged this path by speaking up, and I must do my part to make it a little more well traveled,” she explained. “If I’m silent, I fear that further harm will come to other women, if it hasn’t already.
“He sexually assaulted me, and I have every right to tell the damn truth about it,” she said.
Read more at BuzzFeed.