Former first-round NFL draft pick Kellen Winslow Jr. pleaded guilty Monday to raping an unconscious teen in 2003 and to sexual battery involving a 54-year-old hitchhiker, according to reports.
The deal spared Winslow, who played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay, New England and the New York Jets and appeared in the 2008 Pro Bowl, from a possible life sentence.
The Associated Press reported that the 36-year-old former tight end, at one point one of the highest paid in the NFL, earning more than $40 million over 10 seasons, was about to be retried on six felonies. The alleged crimes including kidnapping, sodomy, forced oral copulation and two charges of forcible rape in San Diego County Superior Court could have sent him to prison for life if he was convicted.
Kellen Winslow Jr. attends a preliminary court hearing in San Diego last year. (John Gibbins/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP, File)
In exchange for his plea, the court agreed to sentence him to between 12 and 18 years in prison for the two charges and dismiss the others.
Winslow’s attorneys said their client, the son of Hall of Fame tight end Kellen Winslow, suffers from traumatic brain injury from his football playing and a motorcycle accident that ended his career. They will argue that information should be taken into consideration at his sentencing hearing.
Jurors also convicted him of two misdemeanors — indecent exposure and a lewd act in public — involving two other women.
In 2006, Kellen Winslow Jr. catches a pass during practice in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
That jury failed to agree on other charges, including the alleged rape of the hitchhiker and the rape of the unconscious 17-year-old girl in 2003 when he was 19.
Under the plea deal, the attack on the hitchhiker was reduced to sexual battery.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.