Eagles' Darby: Accusations against Bucs' Winston 'just not true'

Nov 19, 2017 - 5:38 PM Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby claims he was in an Uber ride with Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston in 2016 and the accusations that his former college teammate groped the driver "are just not true."

The NFL is investigating the female Uber driver's allegation that Winston groped her during a ride after she picked him up in Scottsdale, Ariz., on March 13, 2016. Winston has denied the allegation.

Darby, who played with Winston at Florida State in 2013 and 2014, released a statement Sunday, two days after the NFL confirmed the investigation.

"I felt the need to come forward and clarify some inaccurate accounts of the evening of March 13, 2016 when myself, a friend and Jameis Winston took an Uber ride in Arizona," Darby said in his statement. "There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported. Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true."

In Friday's initial story from BuzzFeed News, the woman claimed that Winston was the only passenger and that he sat in the front seat.

The Uber driver told BuzzFeed that she picked up Winston in Scottsdale around 2 a.m. local time on March 13, 2016. The driver alleged Winston "behaved poorly" as soon as he got in the car, and then asked her to stop at a drive-thru restaurant during the ride.

While in line, the driver said Winston reached over and "grabbed" her crotch for three to five seconds.

"He sexually assaulted me, and I have every right to tell the damn truth about it," the woman, identified as Kate in the story, told BuzzFeed.

Lisa Friel, the NFL's special counsel for investigations, sent a letter to the Uber driver last week.

"The League has been informed that you may have been the victim of such a violation perpetrated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Jameis Winston," Friel wrote in the letter to the woman. "The league takes allegations of this nature very seriously and has opened an investigation into this matter."

The driver told BuzzFeed News that she reported the incident to Uber at the time. An Uber spokesman told ESPN 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."

On Friday, Winston denied that accusation in a statement posted to social media.

"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 the 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."

Winston was in Arizona for Kurt Warner's annual "Ultimate Football Experience" event during the weekend that the incident allegedly occurred.

Darby also defended Winston in December 2012, when Winston was accused of sexually assaulting a Florida State student. Darby and former Seminoles defensive end Chris Casher said they were in Winston's off-campus apartment and saw Winston and the woman having consensual sex. Winston never faced criminal charges, and he reached an undisclosed settlement with the woman in December 2016.

Uber confirmed to the Tampa Bay Times on Friday that on March 13, 2016, a driver in Arizona reported the incident allegedly involving Winston shortly after the trip in question. Uber's community guidelines prohibit any kind of sexual conduct.

The newspaper listened to a voicemail from Uber to Winston informing him that his account had been placed on hold pending an investigation into "inappropriate behavior."

"Hi Jameis, this is Chris calling from the Uber office,'' according to a call that a Times reporter listened to Friday. "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. I just want to follow up and get some more information on that."

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!