Former NFL tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. is charged with being a serial rapist of some of the most vulnerable people in society, impoverished elderly women. Represented by a legal team that includes Harvey Steinberg, who has gotten a number of NFL players acquitted of serious allegations over the years, Winslow had his case take an interesting turn Wednesday. Three witnesses were unable to positively identify Winslow, who looked like he had an Adam Schefter makeover, as the perpetrator of the string of alleged incidents.
On the right below is what Winslow looked like a few weeks ago at his arraignment hearing and on the left is what he looked like on Wednesday:
Winslow is not out of the woods on these harrowing allegations just yet; Mike Florio notes that another woman whom Winslow allegedly raped is expected to testify in court Thursday. Nevertheless, Florio wrote, if this victim cannot ID Winslow, the case could have a hard time making it to trial, let alone end in conviction.
[UPDATE: will go to trialPer USA TODAY, it appears this case .]
If Winslow is acquitted, it would not be the first time Steinberg has beaten the odds in defense of a current or former NFL player.
In 2012, Elvis Dumervil was arrested in an alleged road rage incident in Miami in which he and a passenger were accused of walking up to a car that had cut them off in traffic and lifting up their shirts to indicate that they were holding guns. Dumervil was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. However, the state’s attorney declined to file formal charges. Steinberg disputed a reported witness account corroborating the part of the allegation about the guns and said it had been misreported.
Also in 2012, former Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox faced two charges of felony sexual assault. He was found not guilty by a jury. Cox denied having sex with his accuser in interviews with police, but DNA evidence matched him to the pregnancy that his accuser ultimately aborted. According to the Denver Post, Steinberg acknowledged that Cox had lied but said he was not a rapist. In the case, Steinberg successfully cast doubt among the jury on whether or not the sex was consensual in part by casting a spotlight on the woman’s alcohol consumption habits.
Steinberg successfully defended Brandon Marshall against domestic violence allegations on multiple occasions. Prosecutors argued in 2009 that Marshall caused injury to his ex-girlfriend by hitting her in the mouth and grabbing her throat in a 2008 incident, and presented photo evidence of this and other previous altercations. Steinberg argued that it was his ex-girlfriend who was “volatile” and an aggressor, and accused her of having untoward motives. “She needs Mr. Marshall. She needs him in her life because she had these dreams and cannot let go,” Steinberg said in his closing argument, via the Denver Post. “When is she going to leave him alone?”
In 2016, Marshall was found not liable for accusations that he punched a woman in the face outside a New York nightclub in 2012. Steinberg contended that she was punched by another woman. “[Marshall] knew he never touched or punched her, and he was not going to pay a penny to get out of this as he knew he didn’t do anything wrong,” Steinberg said, via Reuters.
Bill Romanowski was acquitted in 2001 on charges that he used prescription pills intended for his wife. During the trial, Steinberg successfully convinced the Judge that the prosecution could not use statements the Romanowskis made to investigators in 1999 because the DEA had illegally entered their house without consent or warrant. In 2007, Steinberg successfully prevented Travis Henry from getting suspended for a year by the NFL for marijuana, using a secondhand smoke defense. It was a shocker to the Denver Post in 2012 when Steinberg lost a case on behalf of then-Broncos linebacker DJ Williams.
In a 2015 profile by the Associated Press, Steinberg touched upon why he is so driven:
Steinberg said his “healthy, healthy disrespect and disdain for authority” was instilled in him as a young boy. “I’ve never talked about it, but I’ll talk to you because I’m so old now I might as well get going,” Steinberg said.
“Both of my parents are Holocaust survivors. My father was liberated from a camp in Germany called Buchenwald and he was liberated by an all-black battalion and he had nothing left, I mean literally didn’t even have a shirt on his back because it was, well, what the Nazis gave, which was not a shirt. His entire family had been killed.”
Steinberg said that his father, Aaron, immigrated to America when he was in his mid-20s. In New York, he met a woman named Doris, who had been held at a concentration camp in Auschwitz. The couple married and moved to Memphis, Tenn., where, in 1947, his father was arrested for sitting with black passengers in the back of a bus, Steinberg said.
“These are the people that liberated him. These are the people that fed him. These are the people that took care of him after the war,” Steinberg said. “Told white people have to sit in the front, my dad said, ‘If you think after what I’ve been through I’m going to discriminate, you’re crazy.'”
Steinberg has earned detractors over the years, but no one can doubt his effectiveness in court.