Trial Begins for Former NFL Star Accused of Being Serial Rapist

Kellen Winslow Jr. faces life in prison if convicted
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2019 11:35 AM CDT
Trial Begins for Former NFL Star Accused of Being Serial Rapist
Former NFL football player Kellen Winslow Jr., right, looks on during his rape trial on Monday in Vista, Calif.   (John Gibbins/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP, Pool)

From 2004 to 2013, Kellen Winslow Jr. was an NFL star, raking in $40 million over the course of his career—during which, at one point, he was the highest-paid tight end in the league. Now, the 35-year-old is on trial, accused of being a serial rapist. His father, San Diego Chargers Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, was in the California courtroom as the trial on charges including rape, forced oral copulation and sodomy, kidnapping, and indecent exposure began Monday, the Washington Post reports. The trial is expected to last until June 21, USA Today reports; Winslow has pleaded not guilty. He faces life in prison if convicted. More below:

  • The crimes: Winslow is accused of picking up a 54-year-old female hitchhiker in March 2018 and raping her, raping a 59-year-old homeless woman on the side of the road after offering to take her for a cup of coffee two months after that, and raping an unconscious 17-year-old in 2003 while he was a University of Miami football player. He's also accused of exposing himself to a 57-year-old woman as she gardened and a 77-year-old woman in a fitness club hot tub. All five of those women are expected to testify, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Winslow was initially arrested on charges of breaking in to the homes of two women, ages 71 and 86, in 2018, per the Los Angeles Times.

  • The CTE link: If convicted, Winslow will join the ranks of players like Aaron Hernandez and Titus Young who committed violent crimes after their playing days were over. Some have speculated Winslow's defense team will bring up the possibility that he's suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which is caused by repeated head trauma and can cause impulsive behavior. Hernandez was found to have suffered from CTE after his death—but as it can only be diagnosed posthumously, there's no way to definitively prove Winslow suffers from it.
  • Opening day: At least on the first day of the trial, however, Winslow's attorneys made no mention of possible mental health issues. Rather, during his opening statement, defense attorney Brian Watkins said the "accusers aren't giving you the whole truth," suggesting the sex was consensual.
  • The 2003 victim: Prosecutors said Monday that Winslow raped her at a house party while he, then 19, was home in San Diego for the summer, but that she was too afraid to come forward and only did so after seeing last June that Winslow had been arrested on sex crime charges. She had previously told her husband and a friend about the alleged rape, prosecutors say.
  • Indecent exposure: Winslow is accused of exposing himself to the 77-year-old while he was out on bail for the other alleged crimes; he has been jailed without bail since then.

  • Prior arrest: In 2013, Winslow was arrested after a woman said she saw him masturbating in a car parked outside a New Jersey Target; she declined to press charges and he denied the allegation.
  • Family life: Winslow has known his wife since he was 13; they have two children together. On Monday, per Yahoo Sports, Watkins said Winslow had "no strings attached sex" with the women accusing him of rape: "There has been infidelity in this relationship. Kellen's not proud of it, but he's never denied it. He's been unfaithful, not once, not twice, but numerous times."
  • 'Money grab': Winslow has previously described the accusations as a "money grab," per NBC San Diego, and on Monday, Watkins had this to say in court: "Kellen has lived a very uncommon life. He was, he is, the son of a San Diego Charger, Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow Sr. He's been in the spotlight since he was young, and when you're in the spotlight when you're young, that's very difficult ... People want things from you. That's just the way it is."
  • Tuesday: Witness testimony was expected to start on Tuesday.
(More NFL stories.)

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