TAMPA – Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has denied he acted inappropriately while he rode alongside a female Uber driver during a ride he took in Scottsdale, Arizona in March of 2016.
“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 in a statement.
“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.’’
The Buccaneers have also released a statement on the matter saying, “We are in the process of obtaining further information regarding today’s media report. We take these matters seriously and are fully supportive of the investigation that is being conducted by the NFL.’’
The NFL is investigating a complaint filed by an Uber driver who claims Winston groped her in Arizona in March of 2016.
The Uber driver, described as “Kate,’’ told Buzzfeed she picked up Winston in Scottsdale, Arizona around 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13 2016 when two other men placed Winston in the front passenger seat of her car.
Kate, who asked not to be identified out of fear of negatitve retribution, told Buzzfeed Winston began behaving badly as soon as he entered the car.
She said he shouted homophobic slurs at pedestrians and then asked to stop for food, before he “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” further alleging that Winston held his hand there for several seconds.
“I wasn’t just creeped out,” Kate told Buzzfeed. “I was frozen. I mean, he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5-foot-6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze.
Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, issued a statement denying the allegations, telling Buzzfeed, “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.’’
Kate told Buzzfeed she was not seeking money as a result of her revelation but simply wanted the truth known about “a powerful man who felt entitled to my body when all I wanted to do was my job.
“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,” Kate told BuzzFeed News.
“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.’’
Winston, who is nursing a sore right shoulder and is not expected to play for a second straight week on Sunday, was at practice with the Buccaneers on Friday but he was not made available to the media.