Fort Worth

Former Dallas Cowboys player gets five years for Grapevine sexual assault

Former Dallas Cowboys player C.J. Spillman testifies on Thursday, June 30, 2016, during his trial in Fort Worth. He was convicted later Thursday and sentenced on Friday.
Former Dallas Cowboys player C.J. Spillman testifies on Thursday, June 30, 2016, during his trial in Fort Worth. He was convicted later Thursday and sentenced on Friday.

A former Dallas Cowboys player was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday for sexually assaulting a Chicago woman who came to visit him at a Grapevine resort hotel.

C.J. Spillman had been free on bond during the trial because he was eligible for probation. But after he was sentenced, he was taken into custody by Tarrant County sheriff’s deputies, according to the district attorney’s office.

Spillman, a six-year veteran of professional football, was convicted of a sexual assault charge on Thursday.

“The victim in this case showed a tremendous amount of bravery under immense pressure and scrutiny,” said prosecutor Allenna Bangs. “C.J. Spillman is a serial rapist, and the jury’s verdict of guilty, despite his status as an NFL player, shows that behavior will not be tolerated in this community.”

Spillman testified that he met his accuser once in the early summer of 2014 at a Chicago mall where she worked. He had been released from the San Francisco 49ers and had not yet been signed by the Cowboys.

The two exchanged phone numbers, and Spillman said he began calling, texting and trying to get to know the young woman. She reacted coldly to his initial advances and responded to his questions with one-word answers.

On Sept. 1, 2014, Spillman was signed by the Cowboys for its special teams unit. Spillman said the woman warmed up to him after she found out he was playing for the Cowboys.

The Star-Telegram does not usually identify accusers in sexual assault cases and agreed to use the pseudonym Mary for the woman and to use her mother’s first name only. Both women came to Fort Worth to testify against Spillman this week.

Spillman was living at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine when Mary agreed to visit for a week in September 2014.

During cross-examination by Bangs, Spillman said that after Mary arrived, they went out to dinner. He then made calls to a teammate and to a “service provider” to try to arrange an evening out at a nightclub. The “service provider” would recommend the best nightclubs or “if she was interested, she would sleep with you. But she would also turn you on to other women who might be interested in you,” Spillman said.

Mary told him that she was not interested in going out. She had reverted to her quiet behavior, and he thought she might be upset because he had gotten back to the hotel later than he planned. Spillman said he was late because he was obligated to lift weights or face a fine from the team.

Spillman was unaware that Mary had overheard a conversation and learned that he was under a temporary restraining order sought by his former live-in girlfriend, the mother of his three children, who said he pulled a gun on her.

Mary told the jury that on the night of Sept. 20, despite her request that Spillman fnd her a flight home that night, he forced her out of her clothes, pinned her arms to the bed and sexually assaulted her. She testified that afterward, Spillman asked, “What are you going to do?”

Mary’s mother, Stephanie, testified that Mary told her about the sexual assault when she called home from an airport the next morning. Stephanie contacted the office of Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, and later that day Grapevine police contacted Mary.

A week later, the New York Daily News reported that Spillman was accused of attempted rape in December 2013 in Santa Clara, Calif., while playing for the 49ers.

That report came the same week Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones and coach Jason Garrett said that the team would have a zero-tolerance policy regarding domestic violence.

The Cowboys did not re-sign Spillman after the 2014 season, and he is not playing professional football.

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3