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Former West Loop tanning salon owner Marc Winner sentenced to 13 years for rape

The former owner of a West Loop tanning salon was sentenced to 13 years in prison Tuesday for the 2009 rape of a former employee. Marc Winner grimaced as he slouched in a chair beside his attorney as Judge Carol Howard announced his sentence. In the courtroom gallery, his victim, Justine Bour, sat smiling. | Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

The former owner of a West Loop tanning salon was sentenced to 13 years in prison Tuesday for the 2009 rape of a former employee.

Marc Winner grimaced as he slouched in a chair beside his attorney as Judge Carol Howard announced his sentence. In the courtroom gallery, his victim, Justine Bour, sat smiling. Prosecutors also dropped two pending rape cases against Winner, who still faces charges in a fourth sexual assault case.

Reading from a statement, Bour told Howard about the terror she had endured the night she was attacked, and her sense of vindication at hearing the guilty verdict nearly a decade later.

“You had to have known you were sealing your own fate the night that you raped me,” she said. “You knew I was the type or person that would never, ever, not in a million years let you get away with raping me.”

Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, Winner whispered anxiously with his lawyer throughout the two-hour long sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. Because of his pending case, Winner said nothing to the judge before his sentence was announced. Winner had faced up to 18 years on the charges.

After the hearing had concluded, as his lawyer and court staff handled the technicalities of releasing his bond, he seemed confused.

“I don’t understand. I’m an innocent man,” he told Howard. “I’m an innocent man in jail.”

Howard in May had delivered a split verdict following a weeklong bench trial, finding Winner guilty of one count of criminal sexual abuse, a count of criminal sexual assault, while acquitting him of a second count of criminal sexual assault. The trial saw Bour and Winner himself giving divergent accounts of an evening out on Madison Street in July 2014.

Bour testified that she had worked at Winner’s now-defunct Soleil tanning salon while in high school, and met up with him and friends at a trendy bar years later after she graduated from college. Afterward, she and a friend went to Winner’s apartment across from the salon, where they did cocaine. Bour testified that she began to get worried that Winner was becoming aggressive after her friend left, and tried to call her sister from the apartment, prompting Winner to take her phone.

The pair returned to Winner’s apartment — Bour stating she was dragged, Winner claiming she walked back with him. Bour said Winner forced himself on her inside the apartment, and after she was raped, she ran barefoot from the apartment to a nearby Dominick’s where she called police. Bour’s case languished, as Chicago Police investigators took no action for more than three years, as DNA evidence processed by the State Police sat unnoticed by the detective assigned to her case.

Winner had been arrested for Bour’s rape in 2013, but the case was dismissed by a judge who found her version of events unlikely. But he was charged again in 2016, as prosecutors revived a string of older cases against Winner as new victims came forward.

Bour was one of three women to give statements at Winner’s sentencing, along with a woman who claimed she was raped by Winner in 2001 — Winner pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery charges — and one of the women whose sexual assault cases was dropped by prosecutors. Identified in court only by the initials “M.T.”, the woman stared fixedly at Winner as she took the witness stand, and paused to glare at him frequently as she read from notes.

“How many times does someone need to rape a person before he gets caught?” she said. “How many time does he get away with it? Hopefully, never again.”