Former NFL Safety Darren Sharper Sentenced
Former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper was sentenced to nine years in federal prison Monday immediately after he pleaded guilty to sexual assault in Arizona, marking the first change of plea of the day for the former safety accused of drugging and assaulting women in four states.
Sharper admitted sexually assaulting one woman and trying to attack another in suburban Phoenix in 2013. It is very unusual to sentence defendants immediately after a guilty plea, which normally can take weeks or months.
Sharper appeared in a Phoenix courtroom by video-conferencing from Los Angeles. He also is expected to change his plea on similar allegations in that city, where he has been jailed since February 2014 after pleading not guilty to drugging and raping two women there in 2013.
Similar hearings will follow in Las Vegas this week and in New Orleans in the next month. In each state, he’s accused of drugging and sexually assaulting women when they were unconscious or otherwise unable to resist or consent.
Sharper’s attorney announced Friday that the former player reached plea agreements with prosecutors in all the cases against him.
The 39-year-old retired from the NFL in 2011 after winning a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints. He had a 14-year career with three teams and later worked as an analyst for the NFL network.
The alleged sexual assaults all happened since Sharper’s retirement as a player.
In Arizona, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Warren Granville said that Sharper will serve his time in federal custody and that the Louisiana case will be resolved through a federal court.
Sharper admitted sexually assaulting one victim and trying to assault another in Arizona, though police say he drugged three women and sexually assaulted two of them at an apartment in Tempe in November 2013.
Prosecutor Yigael Cohen on Monday cited a letter in which one of the victims says she suffered emotional harm as a result of the attack and that she didn’t have the ability to resist.
Authorities say a search of the Tempe apartment turned up a shot glass with a white residue that turned out to be the sedative zolpidem, and California investigators discovered that Sharper had a prescription for the drug.
Sharper’s attorneys said last year that their client did not make the drinks that authorities say he used to drug the women.
One of the women told police she had not had any alcohol that night until Sharper insisted she drink a shot. Another young woman said she had been drugged, then went to bed, locked her door and was not attacked.
The next day, one of the women confronted Sharper, who denied wrongdoing, according to police reports.
The reports said Sharper was in Arizona to visit a woman who lived at the apartment. The two had met about a year earlier in Las Vegas.
Prosecutors in Nevada, where Sharper is scheduled to change his plea Tuesday, said the former player is expected to plead guilty to one felony charge of attempted sexual assault, with the expectation that he will face between 38 months and eight years in prison, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told The Associated Press.