Ex-NFL star Sharper set to change plea in federal rape case

Thu May 21, 2015 11:48pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Disgraced former NFL star Darren Sharper, who has pleaded guilty or no contest to rape and attempted rape charges in three states, is set to change his not guilty plea in a federal rape case in New Orleans next week, court records show.

Sharper, 39, has pleaded guilty or no contest to charges in Arizona, California and Nevada in March as part of a series of plea bargains prosecutors have said will land him at least nine years in federal prison.

Local prosecutors in New Orleans have said Sharper had reached a plea deal to settle the Louisiana case which, like the others, stems from allegations that he drugged women and then raped them. The deal is not expected to add to the overall time he serves in prison.

A filing in a New Orleans federal court on Thursday showed that Sharper's change of plea hearing was set for May 29 before U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo.

He had pleaded not guilty last month to charges of drugging women with intent to rape them there, but prosecutors said the plea was a formality that could later be reversed.

A Louisiana state judge last month delayed his arraignment on separate counts of aggravated and simple rape until the federal case was resolved. The judge set an arraignment date on those charges for June 15.

Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowl National Football League safety who helped lead the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2010, was charged in four states with raping his victims, women he met at various nightclubs, after taking them back to his hotel or apartment and spiking their drinks with a narcotic.

He pleaded guilty to sexual assault in Arizona, attempted sexual assault there and in Nevada, and pleaded no contest to two counts of rape by use of drugs and four counts of furnishing a controlled substance in California.

All the plea bargains entered so far call for his sentences to be served concurrently in federal prison.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco)

Former National Football League star Darren Sharper appears at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, California March 23, 2015. REUTERS/Nick Ut/Pool