Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston is facing an NFL investigation and a permanent ban from using Uber after one of the ridesharing app’s drivers accused him of sexual assault during a March 2016 ride in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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A female Uber driver identified as “Kate” told BuzzFeed News that Winston, who purportedly sat in the front seat of her car in the early morning hours of March 13, 2016, grabbed her crotch while they waited at a fast-food drive-thru line. The driver alleges Winston left his hand there for several seconds until she objected. He is also accused of using homophobic slurs during the ride.
“The behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong. The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident,” an Uber spokesperson told FOX Business.
Lisa Friel, the NFL’s special counsel for investigations, told the driver in a letter Thursday that the league is taking the allegations “very seriously and has opened an investigation into this matter,” BuzzFeed News reported. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement that the “matter is under review,” adding that league officials are in contact with Uber regarding the incident.
Winston denied any wrongdoing in a statement posted to his Twitter account on Friday. He claims that the Uber driver “was confused as to the number of passengers of 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,” Winston said. “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,” he added.
Representatives for the Scottsdale Police Department and the Phoenix Police Department said no police report was filed regarding the incident described in the BuzzFeed News story, ESPN reported.
Winston was previously accused of raping a fellow Florida State University student in 2012. Authorities in Tallahassee, Florida, declined to press charges at the time. Winston later settled a civil lawsuit with his accuser in 2016 under unspecified terms.
The 2013 winner of college football’s Heisman Trophy, Winston is in the mist of his third season with the Buccaneers.