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Ex-NFL star Kellen Winslow admits to infidelity, claims sex was consensual as rape trial starts  1 Month ago

Source:   USA Today  

VISTA, Calif. – Former NFL star Kellen Winslow II cheated on his wife “numerous times” and even had consensual sex with a 54-year-old hitchhiker last year, but he is not guilty of raping that woman or two others, his attorney told a jury here Monday.

“It’s wrong, immoral, but it’s not illegal,” said Brian Watkins, Winslow’s attorney.

Watkins made these remarks during his nine-minute opening statement to a jury that will decide if Winslow, 35, spends the rest of his life in prison — a stunning set of circumstances for a brash and gifted athlete who once described himself as The Chosen One. 

Since March of 2018, Winslow has been accused of several sex-related crimes involving women over 53. Besides the hitchhiker, San Diego County prosecutor Dan Owens told the jury that Winslow also raped a homeless woman last May, pulled down his pants to expose himself to a neighbor who was gardening in her yard and then masturbated next to a 77-year-old woman in a hot tub in February while he was free on bail for the other cases.

In a separate incident, a fifth woman came forward last year after seeing Winslow’s case in the news and said Winslow had raped her at a party in 2003 when she was 17 and Winslow was 19.

All cases are part of the same trial, which started Monday and is expected to last until June 21. Winslow has pleaded not guilty and appeared in this San Diego County courtroom dressed in glasses and a dark suit, seated a few feet in front of his famous father, a pro football Hall of Famer who played for the San Diego Chargers.

To win his freedom, his attorneys are employing a risky defense. They are hoping to convince the jury of nine men and three women that Winslow had consensual sex with some of the alleged victims and that others were mistaken or not telling the whole story. Last year, Winslow told a detective that he had consensual sex with the hitchhiker and homeless woman, according to court documents.

“He admitted it, a year ago,” Watkins said.

Watkins said he had consensual sex with other women even though Winslow is married with children and has known his wife since he was 13.

“There has been infidelity in this relationship,” Watkins said.  “Kellen’s not proud of it, but he’s never denied it. He’s been unfaithful, not once, not twice, but numerous times.”

Watkins said he wouldn’t even dignify these relationships as “affairs” but rather as no-strings-attached sex.

The jury will now have to weigh that argument against the evidence and testimony of the five alleged victims, each of whom is expected to appear at trial.

Owens, the prosecutor, addressed the jury for about an hour, detailing the allegations of each case. He also previewed some of the evidence against Winslow, noting that DNA taken from the hitchhiker’s pants matched Winslow’s and that the woman in the 2003 case previously shared her rape allegation against Winslow with her husband and a friend.

“Kellen Winslow, the defendant in this case, has been given much, but it was not enough,” Owens told the jury. “You will learn over the course over the next few weeks that Kellen Winslow took what he wanted. He took what he wanted not from one, not from two, but three women. He victimized five women, five separate women, who knew nothing of each other, who had never met one another, who were either complete and total strangers to Kellen Winslow or had only recently met him.”

Both sides noted Winslow’s extraordinary background. Just 15 years ago, the Cleveland Browns selected him with the sixth overall pick the NFL draft and later made him the highest paid tight end in NFL history with a deal worth up to $40 million.

He was set up for life – with a wife, wealth and promising career even as he developed a reputation over the years for questionable decision-making.

But now comes his moment of truth. In recent weeks, his attorneys had considered a mental-defect defense for Winslow and even had hired two psychiatrists to evaluate him – a possible strategy that prompted larger questions about whether head trauma from football played a role in this spate of bizarre incidents. Such a strategy carried its own risk, including whether a jury would buy it.

According to his opening statement, Watkins indicated the defense team instead plans to shoot holes in the alleged victims’ version of events, one by one.

“Kellen has lived a very uncommon life,” Watkins told the jury. “He was, he is, the son of a San Diego Charger, Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, Sr. He’s been in the spotlight since he was young, and when you’re in the spotlight when you’re young, that’s very difficult… People want things from you. That’s just the way it is.”

The trial resumes Tuesday with testimony from witnesses.

"You must decide what the facts are in this case," Judge Blaine Bowman told the jury

Winslow's father declined comment through a representative of the court. 

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