Kellen Winslow Jr. didn't declare for the National Football League draft until January 2, 2004. Today in court in California, Winslow — the retired son of San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame receiver Kellen Winslow and an NFL star in his own right — admitted to having raped an unconscious 17-year-old girl in San Diego County in 2003, while he was a standout tight end for the University of Miami Hurricanes.
A San Diego jury in July convicted Winslow of rape for a 2018 incident in which he told a 58-year-old homeless woman he was taking her out for "coffee" but instead took her to a secluded area, raped her, and threatened to kill her if she told anyone, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. He had otherwise been charged with a series of additional rapes that all allegedly occurred in his native San Diego County — he had faced 12 criminal charges, but a jury was able to reach a verdict on only four and deadlocked on the others last year. Prosecutors decided to retry him on six of the remaining charges.
Today's plea deal indicates Winslow sexually assaulted a young woman as long ago as 2003. It's unclear whether any members of the Hurricanes coaching staff were aware of their star player's off-the-field conduct while he was helping anchor what was long considered one of the greatest college football teams of all time. What is known is that head coach Larry Coker amassed that squad amid rampant rules violations during his tenure, from 2001 through 2006. The university fired Coker in November of 2006. In 2011, ex-Hurricanes booster and convicted Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro admitted to having provided illegal benefits to at least 72 Hurricanes athletes, including Winslow, between 2002 and 2010. (Spokespeople for the Hurricanes did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
In July 2018, San Diego prosecutors alleged Winslow had raped a girl in June 2003 while he was 19 and she was 17. The girl, identified in court documents as "Jane Doe #4," is now 33 and reportedly came forward with allegations that Winslow had raped her after she'd fallen unconscious at a San Diego County house party that year. Winslow had initially pleaded not guilty, claiming the sex had been consensual and that the woman had had a "romantic relationship" with him at the time. During Winslow's first trial, however, she testified he had raped her.
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In court today, Winslow changed his tune.
If he had been convicted of the remaining eight counts against him, he likely would have faced life behind bars. Winslow instead pleaded guilty to raping the teen at the party and now faces up to 18 years in prison.
Winslow’s attorneys reportedly said he suffers from traumatic brain injury sustained on the football field and a motorcycle accident that ended his professional career.