Attorney blames football-induced head trauma after former NFL player was sentenced for rapes and other sex crimes

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Jackson Thompson
·4 min read
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Kellen Winslow II
Kellen Winslow II was sentenced to 14 years in prison for multiple sexual assault charges. Joel Auerbach/Getty Images
  • Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

  • Winslow was charged with multiple rape and assault felonies.

  • Winslow's attorney said the former player suffered from head trauma due to the many hits to his head while playing football.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow II was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday for multiple rape and assault charges against five women in Southern California, according to Julie Watson of the Associated Press.

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San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow preyed on vulnerable women. Winslow's victims include a homeless woman, a 54-year-old hitchhiker, a 77-year-old, a 57-year-old neighbor, and a then-17-year-old high school senior went to a party and passed out with him when he was 19 in 2003. Bowman said that Winslow could only be described as "a sexual predator."

Winslow's attorney Marc Carlos blamed the multiple shots to the head Winslow suffered during his playing career for why he "went off the rails" and committed the heinous acts, according to Watson.

Winslow initially pleaded guilty to some of the sexual assault allegations in November of 2019, when Carlos claimed that his client had symptoms associated with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), according to Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today. CTE can only be officially diagnosed through a surgical examination after death. Still, symptoms of those who have died with the condition include memory loss, impulse control problems, aggression, and impaired judgment.

Throughout Winslow's 10-year NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, and New York Jets, he never missed a game due to a concussion. However, CTE has also been linked to asymptomatic subconcussive hits to the head.

Some former NFL players convicted of violent crimes have had their actions linked to brain trauma suffering during their playing days.

Former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was sentenced to life in prison for murder in 2015. Hernandez committed suicide while in prison, and a post-mortem examination showed Hernandez had Stage 3 CTE. The doctors who performed the surgery found that it was the most severe case ever seen in someone of Hernandez's age, according to The Boston Globe.

Former wide receiver Titus Young was charged with 16 different felonies in 2014, including battery and assault with a deadly weapon. Young's father later revealed that the receiver had exhibited mental problems ever since a concussion in high school. They struggled to control his behavior and treat him, according to David Leon Moore of USA Today. Young was sentenced to one year of inpatient treatment at a rehabilitation center in addition to his prison time.

Winslow said he will now be seeking help and that "in the future, I do plan to tell my story," according to Watson.

But Winslow's actions will have long-term psychological effects on his victims, whether they be CTE induced or not.

Four of Winslow's victims gave statements at Wednesday's trial, including the homeless women who said that since she was raped, she has had trouble raising her head and walking, feels afraid constantly, always checks under beds and in her closets, and cannot be alone, according to Watson.

"It's affecting my life every day and every night," she said. "I don't ever feel safe inside or outside. You brought so much damage to my life."

Winslow was charged in June of 2019 for forcible rape, indecent exposure, and a lewd act in public. The jurors from that trial failed to reach a consensus on the rape allegations for the 54-year-old hitchhiker in 2018 and the teen from 2003.

Winslow pleaded guilty to raping the then teen and sexual battery of the hitchhiker before being retried this year, which spared him the possibility of life in prison. Winslow was facing up to 18 years in prison, but both sides agreed to reduce the sexual battery charge to assault with intent to commit rape, meaning he will only have to serve 14 years.

Additionally, Winslow must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Read the original article on Insider