The NFL is investigating an allegation that Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston groped an Uber driver last year, Buzzfeed News reports. An NFL spokesman later confirmed that “the matter is under review.”
League investigator Lisa Friel sent a letter to the accuser confirming that the NFL is examining the matter, according to the report.
The Buccaneers said in a statement released later Friday that they are “obtaining further information” and “take these matters seriously.”
The driver, a woman identified only as Kate, says she picked up Winston in Scottsdale, Ariz., in the early morning hours of March 13. As they waited in the drive-through lane at a Mexican restaurant, Winston “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” the woman told Buzzfeed.
The driver lodged a formal complaint with Uber, writing that “this rider reached over and put his fingers on my crotch.”
“It wasn’t my stomach or my thigh, it was my crotch and I want to be clear about that,” she added.
Uber confirmed to Buzzfeed that Winston question was banned from using the service in the future.
While a student at Florida State, Winston was accused of raping a female student. The alleged 2012 assault was not publicized until 2013, amid controversy of a cover up by the school and Tallahassee police. The woman in that case, Erica Kinsman, sued Florida State and reached a settlement that would pay her $950,000. Winston was also suspended for one half of a game in 2014 for shouting a sexual explicit phrase in public.
“The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver,” Winston wrote. “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.”
Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said the team would release a statement about the allegations.
Russ Spielman, one of Winston’s agents, issued a denial to Buzzfeed.
“We categorically deny this allegation,” Spielman said. “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.”
Spielman told Pro Football Talk that he was unaware of the allegations until Buzzfeed called him for comment.
Winston will not play this week due to a shoulder injury.