Former NFL safety Darren Sharper, who pleaded no contest today to charges of drugging and raping two women he met in a West Hollywood nightclub and also struck plea deals to resolve similar charges in two other states, is expected to serve up to nine years in federal prison in Louisiana.
Sharper, 39, reached deals with prosecutors in Arizona and Nevada and entered his pleas remotely from Los Angeles. He is expected to be transferred to New Orleans to enter another plea to resolve similar allegations there. Serving the nine years in prison will resolve the cases in all four jurisdictions, attorneys said.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor referred to the resolution as a “global negotiated disposition,” but also warned Sharper repeatedly that he couldn’t account for what might happen in other jurisdictions. “This disposition will stand on its own regardless,” Pastor said. The negotiated plea in Los Angeles was for 20 years in prison total, but based on time already served and a California law allowing defendants to serve half their sentence for good behavior, the global deal anticipates a nine- year federal prison term to satisfy all jurisdictions concurrently. The maximum sentence that could have been imposed in California was 30 to 33 years, according to prosecutors.
Dressed in a blue, pin-striped suit, Sharper pleaded no contest to two separate counts of rape by the use of drug and four counts of furnishing a controlled substance in the Los Angeles case. A count of possession of morphine and allegations related to the rape counts are expected to be dismissed.
Defense attorney Leonard Levine said Sharper decided not to contest the charges because it was “in his best interests” to accept the plea deal. While advising Sharper of all the consequences and rights waived as a result of the plea, the judge noted that the ex-NFL star was giving up his right not to incriminate himself. “The words of your guilt come from your own mouth,” Pastor said, adding that the no contest plea “is exactly the same as a plea of guilty.”
The plea also counts as two strikes against Sharper, who would be subject to a mandatory 25 years to life sentence under California’s three strikes law if he were to be convicted of another felony. He must also register as a sex offender.
“Do the people believe that justice has been served?” Pastor asked prosecutors, who said they did. The two local victims chose not to make statements in court today, but prosecutors told the judge the women were satisfied with the plea deal. “Being spared the trauma of having to testify … is tantamount to them,” Deputy District Attorney Alison Meyers told the judge. Meyers added that one of the victims was still considering whether to seek restitution from Sharper.
After walking through all the details of the plea, Pastor questioned Sharper once more. “Do you understand, to use the vernacular, that this is a final answer?” “Yes sir,” Sharper replied. The most recent case against Sharper was filed in Las Vegas, where he was charged with sexual assault charges for having sex with two tourists in January 2014 while the women were incapacitated. Prosecutors said Sharper went club-hopping with the women and took them to his hotel room, where he drugged and sexually assaulted them while they were unconscious.
New Orleans officials said he sexually assaulted three women there in 2013. In Arizona, he was charged with drugging three women and sexually assaulting two of them in November 2013 in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe. The charges in Los Angeles stemmed from two separate assaults. On Oct. 30, 2013, Sharper met two women at Bootsy Bellows in West Hollywood and invited them to a party. Stopping by his hotel room first, he gave each women a drink doctored with the sedative zolpidem. One of the women woke up naked hours later while Sharper was sexually assaulting her, according to details provided by the District Attorney’s Office. The other woman awoke and “interrupted his actions,” prosecutors said.
On Jan. 14, 2014, Sharper met another pair of women at the same nightclub and followed the same pattern, inviting them to a party and first offering them shots at his hotel room. When the women woke up hours later, one believed she had been sexually assaulted, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
A member of the league’s 2000s All-Decade Team and a five-time Pro Bowl selection, Sharper was suspended from his job as an analyst with the NFL Network following his initial arrest. Sharper played for the Green Bay Packers in 1997-2004, the Minnesota Vikings in 2005-2008 and the New Orleans Saints in 2009-2010. He was on the Saints team that won Super Bowl XLIV in February 2010. He has been jailed in Los Angeles since February 2014. He is expected to be sent to New Orleans in about a week, according to defense attorneys. A date of July 15 was set for sentencing, but the judge acknowledged that Sharper would not be returning to Los Angeles for a “long time.” A sentencing hearing is not expected to be held until Sharper completes his federal prison term, at which point he’s expected to be placed on probation.