VISTA, Calif. (AP) — The credibility of the first of five women expected to testify at the rape trial of former NFL player Kellen Winslow Jr. was called into question Tuesday after she testified she had been sober for 30 years and defense attorneys showed the judge she had been arrested 11 times for public intoxication since 2003.
The woman testified that Winslow, 35, had raped her after he picked her up hitchhiking in March of 2018 in Encinitas, north of San Diego.
She is one of three women who told authorities they were raped by Winslow. Two others say he exposed himself or acted lewdly. All are expected to testify.
Winslow has pleaded not guilty to 12 counts.
The 55-year-old witness, called Jane Doe. 1 in court, described fearing for her life after being picked up by Winslow and told he was going to force her to have sex with him.
“He threatened to kill me, and I really believed that he would have,” she testified.
Defense lawyers have argued the sex was consensual and told jurors the women are not telling the full story.
Winslow’s attorney Marc Carlos in cross-examining the woman asked if she remembered taking the witness stand at a preliminary hearing in July and pointing at defense lawyer Brian Watkins when asked to identify her attacker.
Winslow and Watkins are both black.
“Yes, I made a mistake,” the woman said Tuesday.
Carlos asked if she had been drinking before Winslow gave her a ride. She said she had not.
He asked if she ever drank. She also said no.
When he pointed out that she had been arrested for public intoxication in January, she answered that she had been on cough medicine and been sober for 30 years.
The defense asked to speak to the judge. After they returned, the judge excused the jury for lunch. Then Carlos told the judge the witness should be dismissed.
“It’s not about her drinking, it’s about her lying,” Carlos said.
Judge Blaine Bowman said he would allow the defense to question her about five arrests for public intoxication dating back to 2014. He said he was allowing the questioning because her statement about being sober 30 years had made her credibility an issue.
Prosecutor Dan Owens said the woman’s desire to hide her drinking should not obscure the fact that she was attacked.
The woman took the stand after a DNA expert testified that traces of Winslow’s sperm were found on a pair of pants the woman provided to authorities after reporting she was raped.
She refused to undergo a physical examination at the time.
Winslow later befriended a 59-year-old homeless woman who said he sodomized her a year ago, according to the prosecution. Shortly after that a woman said she had been sexually assaulted by Winslow when she was 17 in 2003.
Watkins contended the women were trying to prey on Winslow amid news coverage of the rape allegations and that their accounts have been inconsistent.
Drafted No. 6 overall in 2004 by Cleveland, Winslow broke his right leg in his rookie season then sustained a serious right knee injury in a motorcycle accident that offseason.
He played for Cleveland, Tampa Bay, New England and the New York Jets.
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