Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for the first three games of the 2018 NFL season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The punishment is in response to reports that Winston sexually and non-consensually touched a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2016.
The National Football league conducted its own investigation and came to the conclusion that “Winston violated the personal conduct policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate,” according to NFL.com.
As part of the negotiated settlement, reached between representatives of the league and the athlete, Winston will need to undergo psychological evaluation and follow any course of treatment then suggested.
Because Winston was penalized for violating league policy, there will not be a trial, so the victim will not have to meet a higher burden of proof nor face aggressive cross-examination.
The league said in a statement, “A future violation of the personal conduct policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban from the NFL.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also released a statement regarding the ban.
“All members of our organization are expected to conduct themselves in according with the personal conduct policy of the NFL,” the statement said. “We are disappointed that Jameis put himself in a position that has been found to violate the policy and accept today’s decision by the commissioner.”
Winston released an apology to the Uber driver, “I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize,” the statement read, in part. “In the past two and a half years my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.”
“I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself,” the statement continued.
“I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be,” read the statement.
Winston publicly denied any inappropriate action in a statement on Nov. 17, 2017. He claimed that the Uber driver didn’t know what was going on. “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.”
Uber Driver Responds
The Uber driver, identified only as Kate, issued a public response to Winston’s apology. “I am glad to see the NFL discipline Jameis Winston. I do appreciate his apology, even if it needs some work.”
Kate continued, “My experience should highlight the importance of believing women when they have the courage to come forward about sexual assault. Perhaps that night could have been prevented if others had been believed before me.”