Former tanning salon owner found guilty in sexual assault of ex-employee

CHICAGO — Former West Loop tanning salon owner Marc Winner was found guilty on two charges of sexual assault Tuesday in connection with the 2009 rape of a former employee.

Winner remained silent as the judge issued the verdict around 3 p.m. Tuesday finding him guilty of criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse. He was found not guilty on a charge of criminal sexual assault with kidnapping. He now faces a sentence of four to 15 years.

Victim Justine Bour, known publicly during the trial as J.B., said in court that Winner met up with her one night in July of 2009 while she was out drinking with friends. They went to his apartment initially, then went across the street to his now defunct West Loop tanning salon, Soleil. Bour testified they both did some cocaine, and then after a struggle both at the salon and then at his condo, he raped her.

During the trial, Winner's attorneys said he thought the sex was consensual, and he simply misunderstood so-called signals he was getting from the woman throughout the evening. When Winner took the stand he recalled Bour was flirting with him. When prosecutors pushed him further, he said “she was smiling at me,” and she was “overly friendly.”

Bour reported the incident at the time but charges were not filed until years later, after more women came forward with accusations against Winner. Now a teacher, she came forward publicly for the first time after the verdict with a message for other victims of sexual assault.

"I would just like to say to any victim of sexual assault that I hope you can hear my story and maintain hope despite the passage of time, despite obstacles, despite what seems like the end of the road," Bour said. "Don't give up, persevere, and if anyone tells you that you shouldn't have had that drink, or shouldn't have worn that dress or shouldn't have smiled, don't listen to them, have hope, and be brave."

Winner is charged with the sexual assaults of three other women. Prosecutors say he raped at least nine women over the course of 17 years. He is only being charged in four cases due to Illinois’ statute of limitations.