VISTA, Calif. — A 33-year-old woman was living with her husband and two young daughters in North Carolina last year when she saw something disturbing on the Snapchat application of her mobile phone.
It was a news article about former NFL star Kellen Winslow II — the man she said had raped her at a party in San Diego County in 2003. The article said Winslow had just been arrested and accused of raping two other women in 2018.
“All of a sudden I see his face, and I freak,” the woman said. “I click on it, and I’m just like 'No way.' I start crying.”
The woman soon decided to contact the sheriff’s department in San Diego, putting her on a path that led to her to take the witness stand here Wednesday and tell a jury about why she waited 15 years to report what happened to her in 2003. She also angrily beat back questions from Winslow’s lawyer in an emotional display about what exactly happened that night.
Kellen Winslow Jr. sits with his attorney Marc Carlo during his rape trial. (Photo: John Gibbins, AP)
This was Day 6 in the trial of the former NFL first-round draft pick, who has been accused of raping three woman: a hitchhiker and homeless woman in 2018 and this woman, who was identified in court Wednesday as Jane Doe No. 4. Winslow, 35, also stands accused of indecent exposure and lewd conduct involving two other women in a combined trial that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.
He has pleaded not guilty and on Wednesday faced the last two of his five alleged victims in court. One was Jane Doe 5, a 78-year-old woman who testified Wednesday that Winslow masturbated in a hot tub at a gym next to her in February.
But first came Jane Doe 4, who recounted in graphic, emotional detail her version of events from 2003, often rubbing or dabbing her eyes with tissue.
At one point, she snapped at Winslow’s attorney, Marc Carlos, who had been questioning her about her previous statement about how things had “escalated” that night in June 2003, when she was 17 and Winslow was 19 and a member of the football team at the University of Miami. Winslow’s defense team has been trying to show the jury the sex was consensual, not rape, and that the woman did not remember a significant sequence of events that night.
The woman said she remembers being on a couch at a party, but then doesn’t know what happened until she regained consciousness in a bedroom as Winslow was raping her on a bed. She testified she implored him to “just stop.”
Under cross examination, Carlos suggested to her that her previous use of the word “escalated” implied that she was “potentially part of it from the start.”
“I don’t know,” she said. “The fact that I said, 'Stop, stop, stop.'”
“Once again, your words were 'escalate,'” Carlos said. “I’m just wondering why …”
“Because it escalated to a point where somebody is penetrating me with his (expletive) penis,” the woman said, raising her voice at him. “When somebody tells you to stop, you stop, OK?”
The woman said this was her second meeting with Winslow after having consensual sex with him at a different house party about two weeks earlier. In that encounter, she said their sex was interrupted when a friend of Winslow’s named Matt entered the room.
“He’s just going to watch,” the woman said Winslow told her.
She told Winslow she wasn’t OK with that, got upset and left without incident. About two weeks later came the night in question. That's when she said she had two or three beers and went with Winslow to another party, where she entered the bathroom to try to sober herself. After Winslow knocked on the bathroom door, she said she came out and sat on the couch.
What happened next is a mystery — and a point of focus for Winslow’s attorneys. Jane Doe 4 also acknowledged she previously considered hiring a hypnotist to help explain the gap in her memory. She even said she wasn't given more drinks or drugs that night.
"Nobody gave me anything," she said.
After going to the couch, she said she doesn’t remember anything except regaining consciousness when she was on a bed in a bedroom “on all fours,” with Winslow raping her from behind and Winslow’s friend Matt in front of her with his pants down and his “groin area” near her face. She said Winslow was forcing her face into Matt’s crotch. In response, she said she pushed back on Winslow’s thighs and told him to stop.
Matt got up, but Winslow flipped her over and continued the rape, she said. She said Matt then told Winslow to stop and helped her get dressed and leave. She never reported the incident to law enforcement until last year.
Under questioning from San Diego Prosecutor Dan Owens, she told him her two daughters were a big reason she came forward last year.
“I look at two innocent girls and never would want them to ever feel like they didn’t have a voice, that it was not OK,” she said, fighting back tears. “And that it’s OK to say 'no' and to be able to be able speak up and tell their truths.”
She told Owens she didn’t report the incident then because she didn’t think anybody would believe her, especially considering the fame of Winslow and his father, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who played for the San Diego Chargers in the 1980s. She said she wasn’t aware of the fame of Winslow II until after the alleged rape.
Winslow Sr. has attended the trial every day seated behind his son, who earned about $40 million during his 10-year career in the NFL.
“Why would anybody believe some girl that got drunk (compared) to who his father is, who’s a well-known man who’s been in the NFL and the Hall of Fame, and a pristine person,” she testified. “Why would his son do something so disgusting? Why would anybody believe me?”
Her story generally was backed up Wednesday by two people who also testified in the courtroom of Judge Blaine Bowman — her husband, a marine, and a former boyfriend. They both said she told them in previous years about being sexually assaulted by a man named Kellen. The boyfriend, Brandon Guillermo, said she had nightmares about it when living with her in Hawaii. However, he said she told him the sexual assault was in a car.
“Jane Doe 4 is an emotionally compelling witness, and it’s an unenviable task to cross-examine a woman allegedly traumatized sexually by a man the court of public opinion may deem a predator, “ said Jeremy Saland, a criminal defense attorney in New York City who is not involved in the case but is monitoring it. “But her testimony does provide ample opportunity for the defense to explore.”
One issue is a photo she kept from that night. It shows Winslow with his arm around her as she smiled. This was shortly before the alleged incident, and Jane Doe 4 said she kept the photo as a cautionary reminder.
“You appear to be pretty happy,” Carlos said of the photo.
The jury of eight men and four women viewed it and will have to interpret its significance.
“Today’s testimony from Jane Doe 4 comes 16 years after her encounter with Mr. Winslow and serves as a textbook example of why sexual assault complainants sometimes take years to come forward,” said San Diego criminal defense attorney David P. Shapiro, who is not involved in the case but has been monitoring it. “She testified she was young, drinking underage and had a previous consensual encounter with a (then) well-known college athlete and son of a San Diego sports icon. Who was going to believe her story? A jury might.”
The trial continues Thursday with the testimony of Jane Doe 5, the 78-year-old who took the stand Wednesday afternoon and testified about two separate encounters with Winslow at a gym in nearby Carlsbad. Winslow is charged with four misdemeanors in her case, including two counts of lewd conduct. In the first encounter, she said she was exercising at the gym when she said Winslow put his erect penis “right in my face.”
“Do you see this?” he asked her and pointed to it, according to her testimony. “Do you like it?”
“What did you just say to me?” she responded, according to her testimony.
Owens said he expects to finish presenting the prosecution’s case on Thursday. The defense will then put up its own witnesses after, including possibly the man named Matt from the parties in 2003.
Follow sports reporter Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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