Woman testifies her ex-boss at tanning salon sexually assaulted her in 2009
A woman testified Monday that her former boss trapped her in his tanning salon on Chicago’s West Loop, forced her back to his apartment across the street and sexually assaulted her twice in 2009.
The woman, identified in court as J.B., said she “begged and pleaded” defendant Marc Winner to let her go.
“I was bawling and begging him to stop,” she told Cook County Judge Carol Howard, who is presiding over the bench trial at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Winner, 47, faces charges that he sexually assaulted J.B. He still faces trials for four separate sex assault charges involving other women.
While cross-examining the alleged victim, Winner’s attorney, Steven Weinberg, argued that J.B. was “drunk and high on cocaine,” impairing her memory of the incident.
J.B, a 32-year-old English teacher, said she started working at Winner’s business, Soleil Tanning Salon, when she was 19. She left after three years to teach in California but returned to the Chicago area in 2009.
The victim testified that she never socialized with Winner outside of work and that they never had problems in the office. She said he would call her “every now and then” but that she would never initiate contact with him outside of work.
J.B. said she was in a West Loop restaurant with a friend in July 2009 when she saw Winner. He invited the women to his apartment to use the restroom, and J.B. admitted she accepted “a small amount” of cocaine from him. When her friend left, J.B. said Winner “dead-bolted” the door and took her cellphone. She testified that he became so angry and frustrated that she “didn’t recognize his face”
In an attempt to get to a phone and call 911, prosecutors said, J.B. asked to see his tanning business. She tried calling police from the desk phone there but accidentally put the phone on speaker, triggering Winner’s ire.
When she managed to get her own cellphone back from him, prosecutors said, she huddled inside a tanning booth and made a frantic call to her sister, saying, “I’m at Soleil. He’s going to rape me. Call 911.”
She said Winner then grabbed her, took her back to his apartment and raped her twice.
When he went to the bathroom, J.B. ran out of his apartment barefoot to a nearby Dominick’s store and called for help. She said Winner followed her out into the street and asked where she was going.
“You know what you did,” she said she replied. “Don’t touch me. I hate you.”
Police found the victim “disheveled and hysterical,” prosecutors said. DNA evidence recovered from J.B. links Winner to the assault, authorities said.
The victim testified that Winner texted her the next morning “hey gorgeous” but that she did not respond.
Judge Howard has ruled that prosecutors can introduce evidence that Winner attacked four other women in addition to J.B.
Weinberg, Winner’s attorney, has chalked the allegations up to an intoxicated misunderstanding, saying the evening “turned romantic” but J.B. “became hysterical” after Winner made a derogatory remark to her when they became intimate.
Records show prosecutors offered a plea agreement to Winner: If he pleaded to reduced charges in two of his cases, they would recommend a combined sentence of 18 years in prison and drop the other charges against him. But Winner rejected the offer in court last month, records show.
In pretrial court filings, prosecutors portray Winner as a serial rapist, preying on women he meets in bars or at his salon. Seven women besides J.B. have accused him of sexual assault, prosecutors have said. Two others say he physically attacked them in other ways. Most of the allegations are “eerily similar” to J.B.’s — the women even resemble one another, prosecutors said in the filings.