- An Uber driver has accused Jameis Winston of grabbing her "crotch" during a late-night pickup in Arizona.
- According to the driver, the incident happened when the pair stopped for food at a drive-thru.
- The NFL has opened an investigation and Uber has barred Winston from their service.
The NFL has launched an investigation into a woman's allegation that Jameis Winston groped an Uber driver in 2016, according to Talal Ansari of BuzzFeed.
The allegation came from an Uber driver who picked up Winston in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona, at approximately 2 a.m. in March 2016, BuzzFeed reported. According to the driver, Winston was in the passenger seat and "grabbed [her] crotch" when they stopped at a restaurant drive-thru to pick up some food.
"The men placed Winston in the front passenger seat — Kate said he was the only passenger. 'I started driving, and right away, Jameis behaved poorly' by shouting, in part, homophobic slurs at pedestrians, said Kate, who did not want to be identified for fear of negative attention and potential backlash from football fans. He then asked to stop for food.
"Waiting in line at the drive-thru of Los Betos Mexican Food, 'he reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,' Kate said, alleging that Winston held his hand there for three to five seconds and removed it only 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."
According to the report, the driver filed a complaint with Uber. The company barred Winston from the service and encouraged her to contact the police, the report said. According to Ansari, "she didn’t go to the police for the same reasons she didn’t want to be named in [the] article."
BuzzFeed viewed a letter sent from the NFL to the driver, saying they had opened an investigation into Winston.
"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 letter read. "The league takes allegations of this nature very seriously and has opened an investigation into this matter."
Winston released a statement on Friday denying the allegation.
"A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago," Winston said. "The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver."
The Florida State University product seemingly went on to suggest that he was in the car, but was not seated next to the driver.
"I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her," Winston said. "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."
He also said he did not want to "engage in a battle with the driver," and that he regrets if his "demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way."
BuzzFeed did verify details of the driver's story through other individuals with whom she spoke after the incident. In addition, BuzzFeed also verified that Winston was in Scottsdale at the time of the allegation, working at a charity flag-football tournament.
This incident came four years after Winston was accused of raping a fellow student at Florida State University. Winston was not charged in that case. A civil suit was still pending at the time of the latest allegation and was settled out of court nine months later.
A representative for Winston did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.