Former NFL safety, Darren Sharper, faces 33 years in prison for drugging women and sexually assaulting women in four states. He pleaded guilty to sexual assault in Arizona and pleaded no-contest in a California case where he was accused of raping two women he had knocked out using a powerful sedative mixed with alcohol.
Allegations of Sexual Assault
According to the L.A. County D.A.’s office, Sharper allegedly met two women at a West Hollywood nightclub on Oct. 30, 2013 and invited them both to another party. The former football player then brought the two women back to his hotel and gave each a shot of alcohol that caused them both to pass out. “Jane Doe #1 allegedly woke up naked hours later with Sharper sexually assaulting her. The second woman allegedly awoke and ‘interrupted his actions.'”
The D.A.’s press release also went on to detail a similar chain of events Jan. 14 and early Jan. 15, during which Sharper met another two women at the same L.A. club and then invited them back to his hotel room. On this night, it appears the same thing happened: he drugged them with alcohol shots, causing them to immediately pass out. One of the women in that incident believes she was sexually assaulted by Sharper. Both women sought medical treatment.
There are also open investigations of Sharper in New Orleans, Tempe, Ariz. and Las Vegas for near identical and alleged drug-rape sexual assault incidents.
According to the police report, the two New Orleans victims allege they awoke from a stupor to find Sharper on top of them, “completely nude.” Both women denied consenting to the sex.
“Through further investigation by the (detectives) it was learned that [Erik] Nunez and Sharper admitted to other known witnesses that he and Sharper had … sex with victims #1 and #2 without their knowledge or permission,” the report states.
According to the police report the two alleged victims were “impaired by the substance to the degree that both do not recall the entirety of the sexual intercourse.”
The felony complaint that was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court accuses Sharper of using the drug zolpidem to drug his alleged victims. Zolpidem is known by its brand name, Ambien, to be a sleeping aid.
According to Trinka Porrata, a former LAPD detective that works in the narcotics division, zolpidem is used in a lot of cases “because it works very well. In some instances, zolpidem is similar to GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate) in that it causes amnesia and causes odd behavior a person wouldn’t otherwise normally do.”
Though GHB is commonly linked to”date rape,” Porrata says zolpidem has become a “drug of choice” for sexual predators because, even though it is a prescription medication, it can be easily obtained.
Professional athletes maintain rigorous travel schedules, in addition to punishing physical training programs. “For a sports guy, Ambien is something that they would more likely be known to have,” said Porrata. “Plus, Ambien is totally legit to have since you’re not carrying around illicit drugs.”
Sexual Assault Settlement Covers Four States
Blair Berk, Shaper’s lead attorney said that with credit for time served and state guidelines, Sharper,39, is expected to serve “a little less than nine years of actual custody time” for the L.A. case. This is after Sharper and his lawyers accepted a negotiated settlement that covers sentences for crimes in four states.
The five-time Pro Bowler and one-time Super Bowl champion during his time with the New Orleans Saints retired in 2011 and worked as an analyst for the NFL Network until his Los Angeles. He has been in a California jail since Valentine’s Day 2014. He appeared earlier in a Phoenix courtroom via video-conference from the courtroom in L.A.. During the appearance he admitted to sexually assaulting one woman in suburban Phoenix in 2013 and also trying to attack another woman.
Accepted Deal for Sexual Assault
Sharper accepted a deal negotiated by his lawyers along with state and federal prosecutors in which he will additionally serve a nine-year federal prison term for similar crimes that happened in Louisiana and Nevada. The prison terms will run concurrently, which means Sharper will serve all the sentences at the same time, rather than back to back. According to a source, Sharper will not get more than nine years in any jurisdiction.
The Orleans Parish (La.) District Attorney said in a statement that Sharper had “entered into a plea agreement with respect to pending charges in Louisiana as well as the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, and the United States of America.”
Charges Light, But One of Victims Happy
Though the sentences seem light when compared to the horrific charges, one of the lawyers of one of the California victims, Gloria Allred, said that her client is happy that Sharper entered a plea.
“I represent Jane Doe #2 in the California case. My client is happy that Darren Sharper entered a plea and she is looking forward to providing her victim impact statement in court in July in California,” said Allred.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office released a statement saying, “Sharper entered his plea just as his preliminary hearing was set to begin before Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor. He is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in state prison under the terms of a negotiated settlement. Sharper pleaded to two counts of rape by use of drugs and four counts of furnishing a controlled substance.”
New Orleans Charges
Sharper is also facing state and federal charges of aggravated rape in New Orleans. And just last week he was also charged with two felony counts of sexual assault by Las Vegas prosecutors.
During the recent hearing, Judge Michael Pastor asked Sharper, “Are you entering each plea freely and voluntarily?”
“Yes sir,” Sharper answered from his seat at the defendant’s table.
“To use the vernacular, do you realize that this is a final answer?” Pastor asked.
“Yes sir,” Sharper answered.
A legal rep for Sharper later told reporters that Sharper’s lawyers agreed to “withdraw” a document explaining the global settlement after the hearing because it did not have all the necessary signatures and had been admitted to the court prematurely.
After Sharper completes his time in the federal system, he will return to California for parole. This parole is expected to last from three to five years. If everything goes as planned, Sharper will then have lifetime probation.
Understanding Parole and Probation
Though probation and parole are both alternatives to incarceration, there are differences between the two. Probation occurs prior to, and often instead of, jail or prison time. Parole is an early release from prison. During both parole and probation, the guilty part is supervised and expected to follow certain rules and guidelines of their respective parole or probation. These guidelines are referred to as conditions of parole, or probation conditions. In both circumstances, the guilty party is expected to submit to warrant-less searches even if there is no probable cause.
Not Admitting to Allegations
Following the hearing, Leonard Levine, one of Sharper’s attorneys, it was in his client’s “best interest to accept this global settlement. He pleaded no contest,” Levine said. “He’s not formally admitting he committed the allegations.”
Yet, a no-contest plea has the same effect as a conviction. Entering a no-contest plea means that, while you do not admit guilt, you do admit that the facts in the indictment, information, or complaint are true. No-contest pleas are often referred to as “nolo contendere” or just “nolo” pleas.
Sharper is due back in court on July 15, 2015 for sentencing.
Sexual Assault Allegations in Los Angeles
In the United States, there is a wide variety of situations and activities that can be considered a sex crime. In California, sex crimes by and among adults include: solicitation, prostitution, rape, indecent exposure, child abuse, child pornography, and many others. If you have been charged with any of these, or another sex crime, and you are subsequently convicted of this felony, you could face very serious penalties.
Depending on the circumstances of the crime, penalties can include: informal probation, fines, treatment programs, sex registration for life, county jail and state prison, among others. Having to register as a sexual offender will follow you for the rest of your life. This also generally prevents an individual from finding work or housing in addition to other hardships. If you are facing charges for a sex crime, then you will greatly benefit from the legal aid of an Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer from The Law Office of Peter Berlin.