We are starting to get a little more information about the groping allegations made against Winston, that allegedly took place on March 13th, 2016, in Scottsdale Arizona. The Uber driver, who has asked to remain anonymous, alleges that on the night in question Winston used his app to obtain an Uber at about 2 a.m. along with Eagles player, Ronald Darby and an unnamed 3rd person.
The driver stated, “I started driving, and right away, Jameis behaved poorly”. She goes on to say that while they were waiting in line at the drive-through of Los Betos Mexican Food, “He reached over and he just grabbed my crotch”, she stated he kept it there for 3 to 5 seconds and only removed his hand when she looked up shocked and said, “What’s up with that?” “I wasn’t just creeped out–I was frozen,” she told Buzzfeed News.
Buzzfeed News also reviewed text messages the driver sent to a friend the night of the alleged incident.
The Bucs did not receive a copy of the letter from the NFL informing Winston he was the subject of an investigation, until just days before the story was published in November of 2017, even though the driver reported the incident immediately to the company, and Winston says that he denied the claims at the time, but Uber cancelled his account anyway. In a voicemail, received by Winston from Uber, you can hear a representative named Chris from the company office say, “I’m following up on a report, we had from one of your recent trips where you or someone in the vehicle with you had some inappropriate behavior”. He was then informed that his account was being placed on a temporary hold. According to Tampa Bay Times, who obtained the recording.
It does not appear that Winston responded to them.
The driver also stated that she told 5 people soon after the alleged incident took place.
Shortly after the allegations became public, Winston took to Twitter to deny his involvement and claims that he and Darby were in the back seat during the Uber ride. He also said that he believes the driver was “confused” about how many passengers were in the car that night, and who was sitting next to her. He says there were 3, and claims the unnamed male was in the front seat. He also stated, “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.”
Russ Spielman, one of Winston’s agents also responded to the allegations, “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 into this is that his Uber account was used to call the ride.” he said.
So far, the only other witness that night is Darby since neither he nor Winston will identify the other passenger. This is the same Darby, who spoke on behalf of Winston when they were students at Florida State after Jameis was accused of sexually assaulting Erica Kinsman. Criminal charges were never brought against him, however, he did reach a settlement with Kinsman in civil court.
The Uber driver retained lawyer John Clune, who also represented Kinsman, but she says she is not looking for any money or to charge Winston criminally, she just wanted to come forward “about a powerful man who felt entitled to my body when all I wanted to do was my job.”
While the off-season may have Winston dealing with the legal aspect of the allegations, it is unclear if he will be suspended; since the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy is very broad. However, a player can face discipline for any action that puts innocent people at risk, sullies the reputation of others involved in the game and undermines public respect and support for the NFL Standard of Conduct. When asked if he was worried about a possible suspension pending the investigation, he said “I have no fear at all, but, like I said, I have to respect that process,” via ProFootballTalk.com.