Romance or rape? Judge to decide Marc Winner's fate

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The "world according to Marc Winner," said a Cook County prosecutor on Friday, is one where he plied women with drugs, pretended to be their friend and then raped them.

The "world according to Marc Winner," said a Cook County prosecutor on Friday, is one where he plied women with drugs, pretended to be their friend and then raped them.

In closing arguments, there were polar opposite views presented of the same man. Winner was either a conniving, violent, abusive, lying rapist. Or he simply enjoyed socializing and is now being harassed by friendly women who's memories were pickled by alcohol and drugs.

Such was the volley of arguments presented by Winner's attorney Steven Weinberg and Cook County prosecutors Mikki Miller and Anne McCord.

Accused serial rapist Marc Winner baited women with drugs, "pretended to be a woman's friend," and became her worst enemy by raping her, McCord said on Friday.

In the concluding chapter of Winner's week-long trial, Winner was portrayed as existing in a self-centered world "where he controlled everything and he lures in vulnerable women and he uses drugs as bait. He pretends to be a woman's friend and faster than she can even realize he becomes her worst enemy."

The bench trial, being heard by Cook County Criminal Court judge Carol Howard, consists of three charges against Winner: two counts of criminal sexual assault and one count of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. All three charges involve the alleged rape of a woman identified in court as J.B. What happened in July of 2009 was the "worst nightmare" for J.B. according to prosecutor McCord.

"He grabs her by the arm and takes her across the street. She is jumping at him trying to get him to let her go, to get away...He drags her to his apartment into the apartment into his bedroom," she told the judge in closing.

"She was begging him to let her go..." said the prosecutor. "J.B. never consented to any of this."

Winner's attorney Steven Weinberg said the state hadn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr winner is a rapist.

"If she wants to get up here in rebuttal and call him a pig I might agree with her. But a rapist? Not on this evidence," Weinberg said.

He said the prosecution's evidence was "hyperbole, was exaggerated, was made up." He contended that prosecutors offered no physical evidence that Winner did anything wrong.

"Wouldn't it have been nice if anybody had went to Soleil (tanning salon) that day that this happened? If the police officers could had gone and put that yellow tape around the place, gone and gotten a search warrant, and then maybe they'd have some evidence," he said.

Much of Weinberg's closing argument focused on suggestions that the alleged victim, J.B., had consumed grand amounts of cocaine that evening, was drug-bedazzled and woozy.

"When you want to say guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, I don't think the quality of the evidence comes from a coked-up, drunk woman at 2:30 or 2 o'clock in the morning after a night of partying," he stated.

Weinberg also hinted that J.B. could have done more to extricate herself from the situation if it was truly so dire and threatening.

"It's not credible," he said. "She doesn't scream. She doesn't yell. She doesn't stomp on the floor into the apartment below."

"The opportunity for her to get away from Mr. Winner was plentiful," he said. "She never took that opportunity because she didnt want to get away from Mr. Winner because they were doing two grams of coke together and she wasn't done yet."

The interaction between Winner and J.B. was consensual, he sent, amidst "a drugfest."

"She was partying with the guy. She was leading on with the guy," he stated. "Screaming would've been the best thing for her to due to avoid a sexual assault and the reason she didn't do that is because there was no danger of a sexual assault."

In the state's rebuttal, lead prosecutor Mikki Miller pounded back at the "victim-blaming" by Winner.

"This isn't J.B.'s fault," Miller said. "She was consumed with fear and panic...she was terrified of him...her goal was to get out alive."

"His perceptions are distorted. He thinks a smile for the woman equates to sex," she said.

Miller told Judge Howard that Winner "is a rapist. He isn't the kind of guy that attracts beautiful women."

She said that Winner stalked victims by calling them after he raped them-and didn't think he would get caught or found guilty.

"Tell him he is wrong," she said to the judge. "Tell him he is no longer free to prey on the women of our city. Tell him he is guilty."

Judge Howard will announce a verdict in the case at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.
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