Prosecutors charged former NFL star Darren Sharper with seven felonies Friday in connection with two separate incidents in Los Angeles in which he allegedly raped and drugged women he met at nightclubs, and revealed that Sharper is being investigated for similar alleged assaults in at least three other states.
Sharper, 38, who played 14 seasons in the NFL for three different teams and is now a commentator for the NFL Network, is charged with two counts of rape by use of drugs, four counts of furnishing a controlled substance and one count of possession of a controlled substance, all felonies. The drugs allegedly used in the incidents include morphine and the sleep medication zolpidem.
He was due to be arraigned Friday, but at a hearing in a downtown L.A. courtroom on Friday morning his arraignment was delayed till Feb. 20.
Sharper, a resident of Miami, Fla., was released on $200,000 bail after he was arrested on Jan. 17, but Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese asked a judge to increase bail to $10 million. Okun-Wiese noted that Sharper was also being investigated in Arizona, Nevada and Louisiana for similar alleged crimes, prosecutors said in a statement.
“Our detectives are working with at least four law enforcement agencies around the country,” said LAPD Robbery Homicide Captain Billy Hayes, “who are investigating sexual assault allegations against Sharper.” In a declaration attached to the prosecution's bail motion, an LAPD detective stated, "I believe that the defendant is involved in seven acts of rape and 11 acts of furnishing a controlled substance."
Sharper's attorney, Blair Berk, said she expects her client to prevail in court.
"We are hopeful that Mr. Sharper will be fully exonerated when the true facts are revealed,” she said.
Authorities said Sharper met two women at a West Hollywood nightclub called Bootsy Bellows on Oct. 30, 2013, and invited them to a party.
Instead of taking them to a party, Sharper allegedly took a detour to his Los Angeles hotel room and invited both women up. Prosecutors said Sharper gave each woman a shot of what they believed was alcohol. Both women passed out.
One of the women, identified as Jane Doe #1, woke up naked hours later with Sharper sexually assaulting her, prosecutors said. The second woman woke up and interrupted the assault, according to the motion to increase Sharper’s bail. The two women then left the hotel.
On January 14, Sharper met two separate women at the same West Hollywood nightclub and used the same promise of a party to commit another assault, prosecutors said.
When they woke up hours later on Jan. 15 in his hotel room, said prosecutors, one woman believed she'd been sexually assaulted. Both women left his hotel and sought medical treatment.
In the declaration attached to the bail motion, LAPD Det. John Macchiarella described additional alleged incidents in Tempe, Ariz., New Orleans and Las Vegas, and stated that he had reviewed police reports from all three cities. The incidents described took place in September, November and January and involved the defendant allegedly meeting a woman or women at a bar and providing the women with beverages. In each case, the women told authorities that they had blacked out.
In the Tempe case, the alleged victims were able to provide police with a cup that Sharper had allegedly used to serve a drink. "Subsequent testing by the crime lab revealed the presence of zolpidem in the cup," said the investigator's statement.
If convicted on the California charges, Sharper faces more than 30 years in state prison.
At Friday's hearing, the judge ordered Sharper to stay away from the Bootsy Bellows nightclub. He has been suspended from his job at the NFL Network since his arrest.
Sharper, a safety, played college football at William & Mary. He was drafted by the Green Bay Packers in 1997 and also played for the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints. He was part of the Saints’ team that won the Super Bowl in 2010 and went to the Pro Bowl five times.
First published February 14 2014, 10:15 AM