LOS ANGELES – Darren Sharper often seemed to get what he wanted.
A Super Bowl ring. A mansion in Miami. A new career as a television broadcaster.
In July 2013, the former NFL star even announced on Twitter that he was having “the absolute BEST time of my life!!”
But it wasn’t enough for him apparently. And now he’s looking at a nine-year stretch behind bars after taking a stunning dark turn as a serial rapist.
Sharper, 39, will serve about nine years in custody as part of an agreement to resolve all nine rape charges against him in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Tempe, Ariz.
He pleaded no contest in court here Monday to six counts, including charges of drugging and raping two women in October 2013 and January 2014.
Earlier in the day, he also pleaded guilty to sexual assault and attempted sexual assault in Arizona, where he was immediately sentenced to nine years in prison with no chance for early release.
As part of the global settlement negotiated by his attorneys, he will serve about nine years behind bars, with credit for time served in Los Angeles, where he has been jailed without bail since Feb. 27, 2014.
The deal includes a 20-year prison term in California, but because of stipulations in the law and his credit for time served, Sharper will serve “a little less than nine years of actual custody time,” his attorney, Blair Berk, said in court Monday.
In addition to the charges in California and Arizona, Sharper faces two rape charges in Las Vegas and three in New Orleans. He is expected to enter guilty pleas in those states within the next month as part of the settlement.
But neither state is expected to sentence him to more than 20 years in prison. He will serve all the sentences concurrently, with actual custody time amounting to less than nine years, his attorneys said in court. Sharper also will be on probation for life.
Sharper entered his plea in Arizona by teleconference from Los Angeles. He then walked into court here and nodded to his father, who was sitting in the front row as Sharper made his pleas.
“Do you understand that this is a final answer?” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor asked Sharper.
“Yes sir,” said Sharper, who wore a blue pinstripe suit.
Pastor also explained to Sharper that the court considers a no-contest plea to be “exactly the same” as a guilty plea. “Do you understand this?” Pastor asked.
“”Yes sir,” Sharper replied.
Sharper must return to court at a later date for formal sentencing his Los Angeles case, but that might not happen for a few months while he is taken to Louisiana to resolve federal and state charges against him there. The settlement stipulates that he will serve his time in federal custody at a location that has not yet been announced.
His attorneys declined comment afterward.
By agreeing to the plea deal, Sharper avoids the risk of receiving an even worse punishment in the future and expensive litigation that could drag on indefinitely in four states. If convicted, he faced life in prison in Louisiana and more than 30 years in Los Angeles.
For prosecutors, the plea deal avoids the risk of going to trial, where juries might be influenced by Sharper’s fame and celebrity defense attorneys.
His suspected string of serial rapes ended in January 2014, when he was arrested on a suspicion of rape in Los Angeles.
At the time of his first arrest, he had 20 zolpidem pills in his possession – a sleep drug known by its brand name Ambien.
Sharper obtained a prescription for the drug after suffering sleep problems he attributed to his 14-year career in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, according to a workers compensation claim form he filed in 2012.
The drug can be slipped into drinks to knock out women and rape them, and that’s what authorities say Sharper did time after time, according to court records.
Sharper ultimately was charged with nine rapes in four states, including three in consecutive nights in two different states in January 2014.
None of the cases went to trial or even received a hearing of evidence, except in Arizona, where a judge ruled last April there was “proof evident” Sharper raped a women there in November 2013. DNA found inside the women’s body partially matched Sharper’s, and a witness reported waking up and seeing Sharper naked and making thrusting movements over the woman, according to a detective’s testimony at the hearing.
The detective said the woman hadn’t known Sharper before that night and didn’t remember what happened to her after consuming a drink Sharper made her. Zolpidem was found in the cup in subsequent tests.
Though Sharper’s attorney noted that none of Sharper’s sperm was found on the alleged victims in Arizona, the detective said he was told that Sharper had a vasectomy, which could explain the lack of sperm.
The revelation caused a stir that day in Arizona, where Sharper was charged with drugging three women and raping two of them.
In Los Angeles, he was charged with drugging and raping two women – one in October 2013 and one in January 2014. In the first one, Sharper met two women at a club in West Hollywood and later invited them to his hotel room, where he offered them a drink, according to a police report of the incident filed in court.
“Within minutes of consuming the beverage, both girls reported to have blacked out,” the report states. Several hours later, one woman woke up naked with Sharper sexually assaulting her, according to the report. The other woman woke up on the sofa in the living room and then entered Sharper’s room, “interrupting his actions,” the report states – indicating another eyewitness to one of his alleged rapes.
Los Angeles police arrested Sharper after receiving a similar complaint from two women about an incident on Jan. 15, 2014. A day after that incident in Los Angeles, Sharper allegedly raped two other women in Las Vegas, for which he was charged last week. Both also reported to have “blacked out” after consuming drinks he provided them, according to court records.
In New Orleans, Sharper was accused of drugging and raping two women in September 2013. He also faced federal drug charges and another rape charge from Aug. 31, 2013, all of it happening just a few years after he helped the Saints win a Super Bowl in 2010.
It was the peak of his career. To put his fame to good use, Sharper even contributed to a book that came out that year titled NFL Dads Dedicated to Daughters. Sharper, who has a teenage daughter, wrote in the book that women are “undervalued and exploited.”
“Money cannot buy the women we love everyday security, which men take for granted,” Sharper wrote. “So, it’s going to take strong, accountable men to educate young boys and influence other men to deal with women respectfully, honorably and fairly at all times.”