Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II was sentenced to 14 years behind bars Wednesday for committing a string of sexual offenses against five women.
When handing down the maximum sentence allowed under Winslow’s plea deal, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman described the 37-year-old as a “sexual predator” who often preyed on vulnerable women in “brazen” attacks, according to The Associated Press.
His string of crimes, which spanned nearly two decades, include raping a homeless woman, raping an unconscious 17-year-old high school student at a party and committing sexual battery against a hitchhiker he picked up along the road.
“The vulnerability of the victims was no accident,” Bowman said. “It was the type of victim that you sought out yourself because you felt that perhaps they wouldn’t report the crime.”
Winslow was convicted of forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public.
Winslow, who was at one-time the highest-paid tight end in the NFL, appeared in San Diego Superior Court via videoconference. He declined to make any comments before the sentencing on the advice of his lawyer.
“In the future, I do plan to tell my story,” he said, according to the AP.
Winslow’s attorney Marc Carolos had argued for a lesser sentence, claiming his client had “accepted responsibility” and entered a guilty plea to several of the crimes, according to the City News Service.
He also argued that Winslow had suffered from what could be chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, due to his years as a professional football player.
"You got a guy here, he's 37 years old. He was a family man. He has two kids, two young kids -- a boy and a girl -- who are basically his pride and joy. And all he really wants to do is get back to those children," Carlos said.
His crimes began in 2003 when a then 19-year-old Winslow raped a 17-year-old high school senior at a Scripps Ranch house party while she was unconscious, the news outlet reports.
The woman was forced to relive the horrific ordeal while testifying multiple times against Winslow in the case.
“Playing the event over and over again shook every bone and nerve in my body,” she said through tears in a victim impact statement Wednesday.
Years later, on March 17, 2018, a 54-year-old woman said Winslow raped her after he picked her up in his SUV while she was hitchhiking in Encinitas.
“I was so scared when he raped me that every black jeep could be him,” the victim told the court, according to City News Service. “I can’t believe he could be so nasty…He scared me so bad knowing that he was my neighbor and I couldn’t believe an NFL football player could take advantage of me.”
Shortly after, in May of 2018, Winslow raped a homeless woman. She testified that she is still haunted by the crime, has trouble walking and raising her head, and feels constantly afraid.
“I don’t ever feel safe inside or outside,” she told the court, according to the AP. “You brought so much damage to my life.”
Even after Winslow was arrested, he continued to victimize women. In May 2018, he exposed himself in front of a neighbor in Vista who had been gardening.
He also masturbated in front of a 77-year-old woman at a Carlsbad gym in February 2019.
“This is somebody who has been allowed to utilize his financial privilege and celebrity to evade jail while awaiting trial, which is when he victimized me,” the woman said in Wednesday’s hearing. “It shows this is a defendant who does not learn from his mistakes, who shows no respect to our laws.”
A jury convicted Winslow in June 2019 of forcible rape, indecent exposure and committing a lewd act in public, in connection with the homeless woman’s rapes and the two incidents after his arrest.
The jurors could not agree on whether to convict him of the hitchhiker’s rape or the teen’s 2003 rape and he was slated to be re-tried on those charges, but later agreed to plead guilty to raping the teen and committing sexual battery against the hitchhiker.
Winslow will be required to register as a sex offender for life.
He was drafted to the Cleveland Browns in 2004 and went on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New England Patriots and New York Jets during his 10 seasons, taking home $40 million, according to the AP. He left the NFL in 2013.
His father, Kellen Winslow, was a Hall of Fame tight end for the San Diego Chargers, NPR reports.
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