Jameis Winston is being accused of grabbing the crotch of an Uber driver back in March 2016.
The driver, a woman, filed a formal complaint with the company.
A woman — identified only as Kate — in an interview with Buzzfeed News recalled making her way to Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 13, 2016, where a lively party was still underway. When she arrived around 2 a.m., Winston’s friends told her she’d be driving the famous athlete.
The driver alleged Winston “behaved poorly” as soon as he got in the car — shouting homophobic slurs at passersby — and soon asked her to stop for food.
While they were waiting in the drive-thru line of Los Bento Mexican food, “he reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” she said, noting his hand lingered until she commented on it.
“What’s up with that?” she asked.
Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, issued a statement to Buzzfeed denying the quarterback was the one involved in the incident.
“We categorically deny this allegation,” Spielman said. “It is our understanding this 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.”
But Kate told the news website Winston was the only person in the vehicle with her that night. And in a text sent to a friend following the alleged encounter — which Kate provided to Buzzfeed — the driver specifically named Wilson as her alleged harasser.
Kate, who is no longer an Uber driver, also filed a complaint with the ride-sharing app at the time, saying a “rider reached over and put his fingers on my crotch. It wasn’t accidental, and it was only for a very brief moment. It wasn’t my stomach or my thigh, it was my crotch and I want to be clear about that.”
A company representative informed her she would not be matched with the rider again and encouraged her to seek out law enforcement. She decided against it, citing fear of backlash as one of the primary reasons.
Kate is speaking out now, not because she wants any money from the athlete, but because she believes it is important.
“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 traveled,” she said. “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.”
The NFL’s special counsel for investigations, Lisa Friel, sent a letter to Kate on Thursday, confirming an investigation into the quarterback.
“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 reads, per Buzzfeed.
Winston earlier in 2016 settled a civil lawsuit with a woman who accused him of rape while they were both students at Florida State University in 2012. Though the details of the settlement are confidential, Winston denied the allegations against him.
“I did not rape or sexually assault (name redacted). I did not create a hostile, intimidating or offensive environment in the short period of time that we were together,” Winston during Florida State’s code of conduct hearing in a statement obtained by USA Today.
The same year, Florida State settled a lawsuit with the woman and was ordered to pay $950,000.
People need to learn to keep their hands to themselves.