FORMER NFL STAR Darren Sharper removed all doubt yesterday that he drugged and raped women, taking the first of several legal steps to own up to sex assaults in four states that will send him to federal prison for about 9 years.
In two separate cases, Sharper pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to sexual assault in Arizona and no contest in California to raping two women he knocked out with a potent sedative mixed with booze.
Sharper, 39, wearing a striped, light blue suit, said it was in his best interest to enter the pleas.
The hearings came as Los Angeles prosecutors were prepared to present evidence of Sharper's fall from grace as a former All-Pro safety who won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints. His clean reputation took a hit when women began telling police in several cities similar stories of blacking out while drinking with him and waking up groggy to find they had been sexually abused.
Defense lawyers had previously said the sexual intercourse was consensual. One lawyer had said Sharper didn't mix the sleepy shots of booze.
But Sharper wielded no defense in court yesterday.
By not contesting the California charges, he admitted he raped two women he drugged after meeting them at a West Hollywood bar, the first in October 2013 and the second in January 2014. The pleas have the same effect as a conviction.
Both encounters were eerily similar.
In the October instance, Sharper invited a woman and her friend that he met at Bootsy Bellows nightclub to go to a party. On the way, he said he needed to get something at his Century City hotel and invited them upstairs.
He insisted they drink a shot of alcohol and they both blacked out. One woman awoke the next morning with Sharper on top of her having sex. Her friend woke up in an adjoining room and interrupted the act and both women left.
The women were not in court, but prosecutors said they had agreed to the plea deal.
Under the unusual deal negotiated by Shaper's lawyers and state and federal prosecutors, Sharper will serve his sentences concurrently in a federal prison, though the full term has not yet been announced.
Sharper's arrest came a few years after his 14-year NFL career ended in 2011, but reverberated as the league was dealing with its off-field problems with players accused of crimes ranging from beating a spouse to murder. He was working as an analyst for the NFL Network at the time.
Sharper, who has been jailed since February 2014 in LA, appeared in a Phoenix courtroom by video-conferencing and admitted he sexually assaulted one woman and tried to attack another in suburban Phoenix in 2013. Police said he drugged three women and sexually assaulted two of them at a Tempe apartment in November 2013.
Prosecutor Yigael Cohen yesterday 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.
Sharper is expected to plead guilty today to one felony charge of attempted sexual assault in Nevada, with the expectation that he will face up to 8 years in prison.
* Testimony in the murder trial of former New England tight end Aaron Hernandez focused on guns yesterday in Fall River, Mass., with a bank teller saying Hernandez asked her to send $15,000 out of a $1.8 million paycheck to a Florida man. Prosecutors say the money was used to buy guns.
* The NFL hired B. Todd Jones, the recently resigned director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to oversee player discipline.
* The NFL is considering foreign sites such as Brazil for the Pro Bowl.
* No NFL games will be blocked out from local television next season, the league announced. The teams voted for a 1-year suspension of the longstanding blackout policy for the preseason and regular season.
* Wide receiver Nathan Slaughter is the first success story from Sunday's veterans combine, signing with the Arizona Cardinals. Slaughter, 22, was an undrafted free agent from West Texas A&M who was cut by Houston in May and Jacksonville in August.