MIAMI GARDENS — The case of Jameis Winston and a female Uber driver in Arizona took more twists Sunday, with Winston getting some level of corroboration, and his unnamed accuser retaining a familiar, high-profile attorney.
Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby released a statement in defense of Winston, saying he was in the back seat with the Bucs quarterback during the Uber ride in March 2016 and "nothing inappropriate" happened.
The NFL is investigating an allegation Winston groped the driver during a 2 a.m ride in Scottsdale, Ariz. While strongly denying the accusation, Winston had not identified any of the passengers during the ride.
Darby, 23, who won a national championship with Winston at Florida State in 2013, said that no inappropriate contact took place but did not identify the third passenger.
"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," Darby said. "The accusations are just not true."
This is not the first time Darby has been a witness for Winston during allegations of a sexual nature. Darby and another FSU teammate, Chris Casher, witnessed the sexual encounter that led to Erica Kinsman of Zephyrhills accusing Winston of rape in 2012.
A Florida State hearing panel found Darby not responsible for "conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment for another person" and "acts that invade privacy of another person."
Winston was never charged in the case but reached a settlement in a civil suit with Kinsman.
Her attorney in that case, John Clune, was retained by Winston's new accuser Sunday, and he reiterated his client's belief that Winston alone was with her in the car.
"I have been retained by the Uber driver who reported Mr. Winston sexually assaulting her in 2016," Clune wrote on Twitter. "I would not anticipate any further interviews from her or lawsuits unless provoked by Mr. Winston."
Clune said the driver's "sole purpose is to put other women on notice of this unacceptable behavior as so many other women have recently done." He also took issue with Darby's account of who was in the car.
"To be clear, no one else was in the car besides Mr. Winston and if anyone is 'confused,' it isn't the Uber driver," Clune wrote on Twitter. "Mr. Winston's friend from his FSU days is just making things worse by inserting himself into this. … We have asked the NFL this morning to investigate Mr. Darby and are demanding he immediately turn his phone over to the NFL so the GPS history can be forensically examined."
Darby issued a statement Sunday morning, one that would contradict the Uber driver saying she was alone in the car with Winston.
"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. "There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported. Myself and Jameis were in the backseat."
Winston and Darby were in Scottsdale while Winston was participating in Kurt Warner's Ultimate Football Experience.
The driver's allegations Winston groped her when they stopped at the drive-thru of a Mexican restaurant caught the Bucs by surprise.
In an interview with Buzzfeed, the Uber driver said Winston "reached over and he just grabbed my crotch" and kept his hand there for "three to five seconds." According to the report, he removed his hand only when she looked up in shock and said, "What's up with that?"
On Friday, Winston called the accusations "false" and contested the unnamed female driver's assertion that he was her only passenger, suggesting someone else was in the passenger seat.
Winston, sidelined by a shoulder injury, was on the sideline Sunday for the Bucs' 30-20 win at Miami. Before the game, the team's ownership was far from distancing themselves from the quarterback. Darcie Glazer Kassewitz, co-president of the Glazer Family Foundation, gave Winston a hug on the sideline before the game and the two shared a brief conversation.