Once again, Jameis Winston is at the center of a sexual assault scandal. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers player, who was accused of rape in 2012, is being investigated for allegedly molesting an Uber driver.
The NFL is currently investigating Jameis Winston, 23, over allegations that he grabbed the crotch of a female Uber driver, according to BuzzFeed News. The driver, who is only identified as Kate in the report, claims she picked up Jameis at a party in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona around 2 A.M. ET on March 13, 2016. Kate says she was told she would be chauffeuring someone famous, and a group of men put the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback in the car’s front passenger seat. “I started driving, and right away, Jameis behaved poorly,” Kate said, claiming Jameis shouted homophobic insults at pedestrians. During this ride, Jameis requested that they stopped for food.
While waiting in the drive-thru line of Los Betos Mexican Food, she claims Jameis “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch.” She says the NFL player allegedly held his hand on her for three to five seconds. He only removed it after she looked at him in shock and asked him what he was doing. “I wasn’t just creeped out,” she told BuzzFeed News. “I was frozen….I mean he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 ft 6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze.”
Social media photos from that time indicate Jameis was in the Scottsdale area for a March 12 flag football charity event, as part of Kurt Warner’s “Ultimate Football Experience.” In response to these allegations, the NFL has “opened an investigation into this matter,” according to a letter the league’s special counsel for investigations sent to Kate. Furthermore, a spokesperson for the NFL, Brian McCarthy, told BuzzFeed News that the “matter is under review.”
“We categorically deny this allegation,” Russ Spielman, Jameis’s rep, said in a statement. “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.”
Update: Jameis has also personally responded to the allegations:
“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.”
After the alleged groping, Kate filed a complain with Uber, saying that “apparently a big athlete in the NFL…put his fingers on my crotch…it wasn’t my stomach or thigh, it was my crotch and I want to be clear about that.” Uber has told BuzzFeed News that “the behavior the driver reported is disturbing and wrong. The rider was permanently removed from the app shortly after we learned of the incident.”
Kate, who doesn’t drive for Uber anymore, says that she doesn’t want any money and she’s coming forward because she wants to tell “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. If I’m silent, I fear that further harm will come to other women, if it hasn’t already.”
This isn’t the first time that Jameis has been accused of sexual assault. He, while attending Florida State University, was famously accused of raping a woman in 2012. The woman in that case, Erica Kinsman, sued the school and reached a settlement of $950,000, according to Sports Illustrated. She also sued Jameis, and the two settled the civil lawsuit in 2015, nine months before this alleged Uber groping.
What do you think about these accusations, HollywoodLifers?