Attorney: Ex-NFL player Sharper plans to plea in rape cases
CHRISTOPHER WEBER & KEN RITTER
Mar. 21, 2015
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Just five years from reaching the NFL pinnacle as an All-Pro and Super Bowl champion, Darren Sharper is now likely headed for a lengthy prison sentence after reaching plea agreements in charges involving the drugging and sexual assault of at least nine women in four states, his lawyer said Friday.
The alleged sexual assaults happened after Sharper's 2011 retirement and followed a similar pattern. In all of the cases, Sharper is accused of slipping drugs to women and sexually assaulting them when they were unconscious or otherwise unable to resist or consent.
His Los Angeles attorney, Blair Berk, said Sharper would enter pleas in Los Angeles and Phoenix on Monday and would make similar pleas later in New Orleans and Las Vegas. Brian Russo, his attorney in Arizona, said his client will use video conferencing from Los Angeles, where he's being held, to allow him to make a change of plea in Phoenix.
Sharper had a 14-year All-Pro career as a safety with three teams, including the 2010 Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. He was later an analyst for the NFL Network.
Only prosecutors in Nevada provided details of their part of the deal with Sharper. He is expected to plead guilty there on Tuesday to one felony charge of attempted sexual assault, with the expectation that he'll face between 38 months and eight years in prison, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told The Associated Press.
He had previously been charged in Nevada with two counts of felony sexual assault, each carrying a possible sentence of 10 years to life.
"We are pleased that Mr. Sharper is accepting responsibility for the crimes he committed in Nevada," Wolfson said.
Wolfson said the Nevada prison term would run concurrent with other sentences in other states.
"I'm not sure where he's going to serve his time," Wolfson said, "But he's going to serve significant time."
The announcement came following a morning of closed-door meetings in the Los Angeles chambers of Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor.
The Las Vegas charges, filed earlier Friday before the plea agreements were announced, had the same pattern as the previous allegations.
Prosecutors there alleged that Sharper went club-hopping with two female tourists and took them to his hotel room on the Las Vegas Strip, where he drugged and sexually assaulted them while they were unconscious.
Sharper has been jailed in Los Angeles since February 2014 after pleading not guilty to drugging and raping two women there in 2013.
The New Orleans charges allege that the former safety sexually assaulted three women in 2013. He also faces charges in Arizona, where he is accused of drugging three women and sexually assaulting two of them in November 2013 in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe.
New Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro wrote in a statement that he expects Sharper will be sent to Louisiana within 30 days to plead guilty to federal and state charges filed there.
Cannizzario thanked victims in the cases for remaining involved despite personal attacks on their credibility. "This plea constitutes a complete vindication of these victims as well as their truthfulness," he wrote.
Sharper was a safety with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. He played in one Super Bowl with the Packers and was part of the Saints' only championship season. He was working as an analyst for the NFL Network before being fired when the rape allegations surfaced.
Associated Press writers Kevin McGill in New Orleans and Jacques Billeaud in Phoenix contributed to this report.