Former pro football safety Darren Sharper was sentenced this week to 20 years in prison for drugging and raping two women he met in a West Hollywood nightclub, completing the legal downfall of the one-time Super Bowl champion and NFL Network analyst.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael E. Pastor also ordered Sharper to register as a sex offender for life and to submit to HIV/AIDS testing.
The 41-year-old former NFL player—who will have to serve half of the 20-year term—was given credit for 2,017 days already served. His sentence will run concurrently with a roughly 18-year prison term he is already serving for similar crimes in Louisiana, along with prison sentences handed down in Nevada and Arizona.
“While I cannot remember fully what happened, I know that I was raped because the rape kit was positive for Darren Sharper’s DNA,” one of the victims told the judge. “Because I was drugged by him and incapacitated, I had no ability to consent to sexual contact with him and I did not consent. I can only imagine myself lying there like a vegetable while he took advantage of my body without my permission. What he did to me has left me feeling worthless and as if my life had no meaning.”
She said she ended up drinking a shot he offered her in his hotel room after he persisted once she declined, and said she blacked out five or 10 minutes later and did not wake up until 7 or 8 a.m. that morning without being able to remember anything. She told the judge that the only good thing was that “this disgusting lowlife” will be sent to prison for many years.
“Because of the crimes that he has inflicted on me, I hope that this scumbag will now feel as worthless as he made me feel,” she said.
Another woman—who said her memory is “black” after she drank a shot and a half that Sharper offered her in his hotel room—said she wondered if her conversation with him about tattoos on her wrist in honor of her sister who was fighting a cancerous brain tumor had stopped him from raping her.
“It’s one thing to be a victim, but to be the victim that got `lucky’ in some eyes is not easy to live with,” she said as she broke down in tears. “Did he try and then see my tattoos? I’ll never know, but one thing I know is that I’m not lucky.”
After hearing from the two women, the judge said he could not speak more eloquently than they did about the “horrible misconduct of Mr. Sharper and the unfathomable effect it has had” on them.
The judge called it a “disgraceful abuse of trust” by Sharper, who convinced the women to come back to his hotel room after telling them that he needed to pick up something quickly before going to another party.
Sharper pleaded no contest in March 2015 to two counts of rape by the use of a drug and four counts of furnishing a controlled substance in the Los Angeles case. Under the terms of the plea deal, a count of possession of morphine and allegations related to the rape counts were dismissed.
He also struck similar plea agreements with prosecutors in Arizona and Nevada on the same day. He later struck the plea deal in Louisiana.
Deputy District Attorney Alison Foster told reporters outside court that prosecutors believed Sharper’s 20-year sentence in the Los Angeles case was “justified and appropriate given the circumstances,” and that he will be entitled to credits for half of the time.
“With the recent passage of Proposition 57 (in California), it could actually go down to eight years,” the prosecutor said, noting that she expects Sharper to serve his time in a federal prison.
It is unclear, however, how much time he will wind up serving in Louisiana, where a federal judge sentenced him to the 18-year term.
“In this case, there were four victims,” Foster said of the charges in Los Angeles. “We have two sexual assault victims and we have two additional drugging victims. All four victims were drugged based on the evidence we had and we know from the evidence we collected that two of those victims were sexually assaulted by Mr. Sharper.”
The charges in Los Angeles stemmed from two separate assaults. On Oct. 30, 2013, Sharper met two women at a West Hollywood nightclub and invited them to a party. Stopping by his hotel room first, he gave each woman a drink doctored with the sedative zolpidem, commonly known as Ambien. 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.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who has filed civil lawsuits on behalf of both women who spoke at Sharper’s sentencing, called him a “serial sexual predator.”
“Were it not for the courage of all of the victims who reported Mr. Sharper’s crimes against them to law enforcement, Mr. Sharper would be free to continue drugging and raping women,” Allred said. “I am proud of all of the victims who had the courage to cooperate with law enforcement, even though Mr. Sharper was a famous NFL star. This case should send a message to all predators that even if you are a celebrity sports figure, you are not above the law. Women will not be intimidated by your wealth, fame or power. Instead they will stand up and fight back.”
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 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.