Former all-pro safety Darren Sharper was a hero to many, starring in the NFL for 14 seasons and winning a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints.
That all came crashing down with his 2014 arrest for sexual assault, and culminated Tuesday with the 41-year-old being sentenced to 20 years in prison for drugging and raping multiple women across four different states.
Sharper, who’s been retired from football since 2011, sat quietly in a Los Angeles courtroom as Superior Court Judge Michael Pastor branded his actions a “disgraceful abuse of trust” and condemned what he called Sharper’s “horrible conduct.”
Sharper’s plea deal means he’ll be eligible for parole in about eight years, as California law requires him to serve half of his sentence, and he’s been in jail since his arrest more than two years ago.
There’s also the possibility that Sharper could be given more time. A federal judge in New Orleans rejected Sharper’s plea deal, arguing that it was too lenient and instead sentenced him to an 18-year prison sentence. That sentence is currently in appeals court.
Two of Sharper’s victims testified about their evenings (one in 2013 and the other in 2014) with him during the proceedings, saying what began with innocent partying ended with them blacking out after he secretly drugged their drinks. Both of the women, whose identities were withheld, said when they finally woke up they realized they had been sexually assaulted.
Sharper, who was working as an analyst for the NFL Network when the allegations first surfaced, played for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints from 1997-2011, finishing his career with 63 interceptions and 13 touchdowns. He earned All-Pro honors six times and was selected to the Pro Bowl four times.