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Kellen Winslow II sentenced to 14 years in rape case

Kellen Winslow of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011
In this Sept. 11, 2011 file photo, Kellen Winslow, then with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, looks on during the season opener against the Detroit Lions at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Winslow II, namesake son of Chargers’ icon, arrested in June 2018

Calling former NFL player Kellen Winslow II “a sexual predator,” a Vista judge on Wednesday, March 3, sentenced the namesake son of the Chargers’ legend to 14 years in prison for his 2019 convictions for rape and other crimes involving sexual misconduct.

Winslow — once a first-round NFL draft pick and later the highest paid tight-end in the league — must also register as a sex offender for life.

Winslow’s sentence was expected. He had been looking at a range between 12 to 18 years after his conviction for raping a homeless woman and other charges, convictions reached at trial and through guilty pleas.

The final sentencing decision was to be at the discretion of Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman. But last week, Winslow
agreed to a deal that capped his prison sentence at 14 years.

Kellen Winslow II appears via video at his sentencing hearing
Kellen Winslow II appears via video at his sentencing hearing in Vista Superior Court on Wednesday. The 37-year-old was sentenced to 14 years in prison on rape and other charges.
(Eduardo Contreras/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

In court Wednesday, March 3, Bowman, who presided over the trial, dismissed statements from Winslow’s attorney that Winslow’s behavior could have stemmed from repeated head trauma sustained from years of football, noting that one of the incidents happened before the defendant’s pro career.

“That leaves us with someone who can only be described in two words — and that is a sexual predator,” Bowman said before sentencing Winslow. “That’s what Kellen Winslow II is. He’s a sexual predator. He preys on vulnerable victims and is very brazen in the way he carries out his crimes.”

The hearing was held via video, as has been common in light of COVID-19 safety requirements during the pandemic. Winslow, who has been in custody for two years, participated from a county jail in Otay Mesa.

The 37-year-old declined to make a statement during the hearing, citing his attorney’s advice.

“In the future, I do plan to tell my story,” Winslow told Bowman.

Winslow was convicted of crimes involving five victims.

One of them, a then 58-year-old homeless woman who Winslow befriended in 2018, testified that she’d agreed to get coffee with him one night, but he instead drove his Hummer to a secluded spot and attacked her.

“That man is not a good man,” the woman said in the hearing Wednesday, March 3. “I don’t think you know how truly dangerous that man is.”

She spoke of living in continual fear. “If you don’t think rape affects a human being, you’re damn wrong,” she said.

The judge also heard from a 54-year-old Encinitas resident who’d been hitchhiking for a ride down the street when Winslow picked her up in March 2018. She said he assaulted her behind a shopping center.

“I was so scared when he raped me,” the woman wrote in the letter, which Deputy District Attorney Dan Owens read aloud. “He scared me so bad, knowing now that he was my neighbor, and I couldn’t believe that an NFL football player would take advantage of me.”

Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. on 2004 NFL draft day
Tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. was selected sixth overall by the Cleveland Browns at the 2004 NFL Draft on April 24, 2004 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
(Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

In June 2018, Winslow was arrested and accused of raping the homeless woman and the hitchhiker, as well as of committing other offenses targeting women in coastal North County. Winslow pleaded not guilty.

After news of the criminal case broke, another accuser came forward, a woman who said Winslow raped her at house party in 2003, when she was 17 and he was 19. Winslow was charged with that incident as well.

A year later, his trial ended with a split verdict. A North County jury found him guilty of raping the homeless woman. The panel also found he’d exposed himself to a 57-year-old neighbor and had committed lewd behavior in front of a 77-year-old woman in a Carlsbad gym. The gym incident happened while he was out on $2 million bail awaiting trial in the rape case.

But the jury deadlocked on other charges, including the alleged rapes of the hitchhiker and teen girl.

Five months later, as his retrial was about to start — the jury was waiting in the hallway — Winslow agreed to plead guilty to two charges: sexual battery of the hitchhiker and the rape of an unconscious person — the teen girl, who had been drinking the night of her encounter.

The sexual battery plea was later dismissed and replaced with a guilty plea to assault with the intent to commit rape on the same woman, in order to come to a 14-year sentence. Had his retrial resulted in a second rape conviction, he was looking at life in prison.

Winslow had been scheduled to be sentenced March 2020, but COVID closures and other postponements pushed the hearing back a year.

— Teri Figueroa is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune

Updates

5:13 p.m. March 3, 2021: This story was updated with victim impact statements made in court.

5:13 p.m. March 3, 2021: This story was updated with comments from the judge and the defendant.


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