Philadelphia Eagles

Attorney of Uber driver asks NFL to investigate Eagles’ Darby’s defense of Bucs’ Winston

An attorney for an Uber driver who alleged that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston groped her has asked the league to investigate Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby’s defense of Winston.

John Clune, who also represented a Florida State student who accused Winston of sexual assault in 2012, tweeted Sunday that he has asked the NFL to investigate Darby’s comments.

Darby, who was a teammate of Winston’s at Florida State, released a statement Sunday saying he was in an Uber ride with Winston on March 13, 2016, saying that his college teammate did nothing inappropriate with the driver.

“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.”

However, Clune disputed Darby’s statement.

An attorney who specializes in sexual assault and Title IX cases, Clune previously represented an FSU student who alleged that Winston sexually assaulted her in December 2012.

The NFL is currently investigating the allegation made by the female Uber driver who claims that Winston grabbed her crotch while they were waiting at a drive thru. Buzzfeed News initially reported the investigation, and spoke with the driver.

Waiting in line at the drive-thru of Los Betos Mexican Food, “he reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” Kate said, alleging that Winston held his hand there for three to five seconds and removed it only after she looked up in shock and said, “What’s up with that?”

“I wasn’t just creeped out,” said Kate, who had been driving with Uber for more than two years at that point. (She no longer drives for the service.) “I was frozen.” She described Winston as “very physically imposing.”

“I mean he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 ft 6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze,” she said, worried that she might provoke an unwanted reaction.

According to a Scottsdale Police Department spokesperson, the driver did not call or file a report with the department. The Phoenix Police Department also confirmed that they were not contacted about an incident involving Winston and an Uber driver.

Winston has denied the allegation through a spokesman and then via his own statement, which matches Darby’s, saying “the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.”

Winston and Darby were in Arizona for Kurt Warner’s annual “Ultimate Football Experience” event during the weekend that the incident allegedly occurred.

Lisa Friel, the NFL’s Special Counsel for Investigations, confirmed that the league found out about the Winston case last week, and shortly after launched the league’s investigation.

The league’s investigation was first reported Friday by BuzzFeed, which viewed a letter it said was sent from Friel to the Uber driver.

Winston has denied the allegations, saying in a statement Friday that the “accusation is false.”

In 2012, Darby and former Seminoles defensive end Chris Casher said they were in Winston’s off-campus apartment the night he was accused of sexually assaulting the Florida State student.

Darby and Casher provided authorities with affidavits indicating they saw Winston having consensual sex with the woman, but they later refused to testify at a student conduct code hearing regarding the allegations. Winston was never criminally charged by authorities in the incident, and he was cleared of violating FSU’s student conduct code by a retired Florida state Supreme Court justice.

FSU officials reached a $950,000 settlement with the woman in January 2016 after she sued the university in federal court, and she and Winston reached an undisclosed settlement in December 2016.

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