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Former NFL Player Kellen Winslow Jr. Pleads Guilty In Rape Case To Avoid Life Sentence

Kellen Winslow Jr is now looking at 12 to 18 years behind bars, rather than the rest of his life, after pleading guilty to rape and sexual battery.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr. accepted a plea deal on Monday, pleading guilty to rape and sexual battery, in the process avoiding a retrial that could have seen him spend the rest of his life behind bars if convicted.

Winslow, 36, pleaded guilty to raping an unconscious 17-year-old girl in 2003 when he was 19 and to sexual battery involving a 54-year-old hitchhiker last year, according to USA Today. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 19, 2020, where he faces between 12 and 18 years in prison; he will also be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine and register as a sex offender for the rest of his life, the outlet reports.

Winslow entered his plea just before his retrial on a variety of felony charges, including kidnapping and sodomy, was slated to begin, even asking the judge for more time to deliberate at one point because he was “not thinking very clearly,” ESPN reports.

A San Diego jury found Winslow guilty in June of rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct. The rape conviction referred to the sexual assault of a 58-year-old homeless woman in Encinitas, California; the indecent exposure charge referred to an incident with a 57-year-old woman who lived in his neighborhood and the lewd conduct involved a 77-year-old woman who was visiting a local gym, according to the Associated Press.

The jury was undecided on the remaining charges that Winslow faced, prompting a retrial. However, in exchange for his guilty plea on Monday, prosecutors agreed to dismiss the remaining charges that Winslow was facing, and the alleged rape of the hitchhiker, a woman known only as Jane Doe, was changed to sexual battery, according to ESPN.

Kellen Winslow Jr.

Marc Carlos, an attorney for Winslow, said that his client accepted the deal partly for his family’s sake, according to USA Today.

“The downside of any conviction would land him in prison for the rest of his life,” Carlos said. “He made the decision based on his family, his father, his children, and he wanted to be there for them in the future. So by accepting a plea agreement with the sentencing range that he has, he’s got a set number he has to get to rather than spending the rest of his life in prison.”

Winslow, the son of Hall of Fame football player Kellen Winslow, spent around a decade in the NFL, playing as a tight-end primarily for the Cleveland Browns and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He has two children, a 6-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son, that he shares with his estranged wife, who separated from him after several allegations came out, USA Today previously reported.

Winslow originally maintained his innocence, initially pleading not guilty; on Monday, he said that he will “pray to God” that the judge sentences him to 12 years so that he can “go home” to his family, according to USA Today’s report.

Five women in total testified against Winslow during his June trial, and three of them were slated to return to the stand for his retrial, a decision that prosecutor Dan Owens applauded while addressing reporters outside of the courtroom on Monday, ESPN reports.

“Each of these victims, they didn't try to come out here in order to try to frame Mr. Winslow,” Owens said. “The fact that they had that courage to come forward and speak with law enforcement and to testify to all the things that he had done while facing all these cameras, I think it was important to me to make sure that that truth was heard, and it was important to me to make sure that he was held accountable for each one of those crimes.”

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