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VISTA, Calif. — Hands clasped, shoulders upright and face expressionless, Kellen Winslow Jr. showed little emotion as he listened to testimony that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
He didn’t wince as a 33-year-old woman accused him of raping her at a house party when she was a teenager. He didn’t flinch when she tearfully described waking up from a drunken fog to find him penetrating her from behind while pushing her face into another man’s penis. He even remained expressionless after she alleged that he ignored her screams of “Stop! Stop! Stop!” as she tried in vain to push him away.
The woman’s explosive testimony to open Monday’s pretrial hearing helped persuade a San Diego Superior Court judge to order Winslow to stand trial on charges of forcible rape and the rape of an unconscious person. Judge Harry Elias also listened to testimony from a friend of Winslow’s accuser and two investigators before determining there was sufficient evidence against the ex-Pro Bowl tight end and son of a San Diego Chargers legend.
Winslow, 35, was already bound for trial on multiple other charges, including that he kidnapped and raped a 54-year-old hitchhiker in March and a 58-year-old homeless woman in May after picking them up on the streets of Encinitas, a seaside suburb of San Diego. The defendant has denied all the accusations against him. If convicted of more than one rape, he faces the potential of life in prison.
The woman who accused Winslow of rape on Monday said that she found the courage to go to the police only a few months ago after reading about the other allegations against the former NFL star. She testified that before then she had told only a therapist, a former boyfriend and her husband about the alleged 2003 rape.
“I was 17, drinking under age,” Winslow’s accuser said. “He was going to be in the NFL. I just felt why would anybody believe me?”
Woman describes first encounter with Winslow Jr.
Winslow allegedly met his accuser in June 2003 at a house party in Scripps Ranch, California. They allegedly chatted and flirted that night, the conversation going smoothly enough that she agreed to follow him and his friends to a second house party and then join him in an upstairs bedroom alone.
The accuser said that she and Winslow “started kissing and moving toward having sex” when they were interrupted by a man identified only as “Matt” entering the bedroom. When the accuser protested she felt uncomfortable, Winslow allegedly told her, “He’s just going to watch.”
“I was shocked,” the accuser testified. “I was like, ‘You are really OK with your buddy just walking in?'”
The accuser said that she got dressed, headed back downstairs and asked a friend to drive her home. Winslow, 19 at the time, did not try to stop her aside from allegedly pleading with her, “You’ve just got to let me finish.”
Second meeting is where rape is alleged
The next time Winslow and his accuser allegedly saw each other was two weeks later at another San Diego-area house party, one that had already gotten so out of control that the police had been called. Winslow’s accuser testified that after a stop at a nearby gas station, she wound up getting in a black SUV with the future NFL star and his friend Matt.
Having consumed three beers in less than an hour at the previous house party, Winslow’s accuser initially described her state of mind during the drive as “kinda buzzed” and later as “not sloppy but drunk.” She testified that she seldom drank more than three beers in one night at the time because at 5-foot-2, 92 pounds, she tended to feel the effects of alcohol rapidly.
Winslow’s accuser said that she recalls arriving at a nearby townhouse, “trying to sober up” in a bathroom and taking a seat on the couch. She testified that she must have blacked out soon after that because she has no memory of a chunk of time thereafter.
“The next thing I know, I’m on a bed in somebody’s bedroom and my face is being pushed into Matt’s groin,” Winslow’s accuser testified. “[Winslow] was penetrating me from behind. He was holding my hair and trying to get me to suck Matt’s d—.”
The way Winslow’s accuser remembers it, he allegedly flipped her over and continued to have sex with her as she pleaded with him to stop. She said that another person in the room filmed the alleged rape and that Winslow only finally relented after his friend Matt intervened.
At the end of her testimony, Winslow’s accuser produced a photo of she and Winslow from the night of the alleged rape. She said she kept it all these years to remind her “that anyone can harm you and anyone can harm your daughter.”
Winslow’s potential defense
In cross examination, Winslow’s team of attorneys called one witness, a police officer and focused on the fact that some of the details from the accuser’s testimony on Monday did not match what she initially told police. They also laid groundwork to potentially argue the sex was consensual by getting Winslow’s accuser to admit that Winslow never plied her with alcohol and that “Matt” helped her get dressed, carried her to his car and drove her back to her friends.
Asked how Winslow feels about the allegations against him, attorney Brian Watkins said that it has “tarnished his reputation.”
“It’s very unfortunate he has to deal with this situation and he’s persevering through,” Watkins added.
Whether things were going good or bad for Winslow during Monday’s hearing, the lone constant was his stone-faced demeanor. It seldom broke during the hearing, not even when Judge Elias rendered his decision that Winslow will stand trial on charges for the alleged 2003 rape.
The closest Winslow came to breaking character was in the hallway outside the courtroom after the judge scheduled his arraignment for Oct. 30. Winslow hugged his wife and shook hands with his dad, both of whom have supported him from start to finish during this process. Then he began a slow walk toward the courthouse parking lot and a uncertain future.
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