Alleged serial rapist Marc Winner takes stand in his own defense in rape case

SHARE Alleged serial rapist Marc Winner takes stand in his own defense in rape case
winner_042618_10_75867011.jpg

Marc Winner Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

When police were pounding on his front door with an arrest warrant in 2013, Marc Winner testified that he called lawyer Steve Weinberg before he opened the door. On Thursday, as he stood trial for rape, their relationship appeared to have frayed.

Winner took the witness stand Thursday just over five years after that arrest, on trial for one of the four rape cases in which Weinberg is now representing the former tanning salon owner.

Winner spent nearly three hours on the stand, much of it being badgered about phone call records from the night of the alleged rape that Winner had demanded from his cellphone company mid-trial, without asking his lawyers. Outside the courtroom, with closing arguments set for Friday, Weinberg and Winner huddled in the hallway. From 20 feet away in the narrow corridor, a reporter could hear shouting.

“Stay away from me for the rest of this!” Weinberg yelled at his client. “I leave everything on the courtroom floor for you! And it’s never enough!”

Marc Winner(right) and his lawyer Steven Weinberg leaving the Cook County Criminal Court Building at 26th and California. | Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

Marc Winner(right) and his lawyer Steven Weinberg leaving the Cook County Criminal Court Building at 26th and California. | Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

The fourth day of testimony in Winner’s bench trial for the 2009 rape of a former employee of his now-defunct West Loop tanning salon, Soleil, did not go well for the defense.

On the stand, Winner answered questions in a clipped monotone, and his account of the July 2009 encounter that led to his charges differed significantly from the version offered days earlier by an emotional, but not easily shaken, victim.

By way of reinforcing that his victim’s recollection was altered by drug use, Winner also had to admit that he typically had an ample supply of drugs — ranging from weed, to Vicodin, or cocaine — in his role as an occasional drug dealer.

The woman, identified in court by the initials “J.B.,” shook her head incredulously as she sat in the courtroom gallery watching as Winner described their evening.

In Winner’s telling, she invited him to drinks with friends at a trendy West Loop bar, and joined him for a few lines of cocaine at Winner’s apartment. After giving her “signals” all night of her attraction, J.B. became hysterical after Winner cut off a consensual sexual encounter after he found out she was having her period and he called her “disgusting,” Winner said.

“She told me she was on her period,” Winner said. “I said ‘gross’ and went and took a shower.

“When I came out of the shower (J.B.) was freaking out. I tried to talk to her.”

On Monday, J.B. had testified that Winner had become aggressive in his apartment, after her friend left them alone. Winner took her phone after she tried to call her sister — telling her she was about to be raped — and she convinced him to take her to his salon across the street to show off renovations.

There, she said, she tried to call 911 from the desk phone. She said Winner dragged her across the street to his apartment and assaulted her — when he noticed she had a tampon, he ripped it out. He called her disgusting, she said, when she lied and told him she had a sexually transmitted disease.

Weinberg’s decision to put a criminal defendant on the stand was not terribly unusual in a rape case — defendants often are the only witnesses who can contradict a victim’s version of events. But what was odd was the wan, resigned expression on Weinberg’s face as Winner faced a harsh cross-examination over his cellphone call history from the night of the attack.

The source of the phone records, which had been turned over to prosecutors the day before, was Winner — who had requested the records from his cellphone company mid-trial, apparently without clearing the move with lawyers.

They showed that moments after J.B. had run barefoot from his apartment, Winner called an ex-girlfriend, then J.B., then another lawyer — whose name Winner claimed not to recognize, though prosecutor Mikki Miller pointed out it was the same lawyer who had helped set up Winner’s tanning business. In the 10 minutes after that, he called or texted J.B. eight times.

Winner said he didn’t know how many times he’d called J.B. He’d sought out the records only to show that J.B. had called him first to set up their evening out.

“Well sir, these are your records that you got,” said Miller, as Weinberg and co-counsel shared a look. “You’re saying you didn’t examine them? You didn’t look at the dozen calls you made after she ran out of your apartment crying?”

The Latest
Just because they’re closest to a championship doesn’t mean they’re close.
The answer is serendipity — and a heaping of knowing what millennials want next.
The Fed’s latest projections are by no means fixed in time. The policymakers frequently revise their plans for rate cuts — or hikes — depending on how economic growth and inflation evolve over time.
Now it’s Anxiety overwhelming Riley as she turns 13 in one of Disney-Pixar’s greatest adventures
El cofundador del festival, Mike Petryshyn, compartió el anuncio en un video publicado en las redes sociales y en el sitio web del festival el martes por la noche. El nuevo lugar se anunció el miércoles por la mañana junto con el programa de este año.