June 15, 2015 / 5:29 PM / 4 years ago

Former NFL star Sharper pleads guilty to rape in New Orleans

(Reuters) - Former National Football League star Darren Sharper pleaded guilty on Monday to drugging and raping three women in New Orleans, the final step in a series of deals with prosecutors in federal court and four states.

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

Sharper, a 14-year NFL veteran who retired after the 2010 season, pleaded guilty in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court to two charges of forcible rape and one of simple rape in 2013.

The 39-year-old Sharper admitted to distributing controlled substances to women and then having sex with them while they were incapacitated, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Sharper met his victims at various bars and took them back to his hotel or apartment, where he assaulted them after spiking their drinks with a narcotic.

A five-time Pro Bowl defensive back, Sharper had already pleaded guilty or no contest to raping a total of six other women in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Tempe, Arizona.

Sharper pleaded guilty in New Orleans’ federal court two weeks ago to drugging women for the purpose of raping them.

The three federal counts of drugging women with the intent to rape them each carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but a series of “global resolution” deals with prosecutors call for him to serve nine years in federal prison.

Sharper, who played for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints, will be sentenced on Aug. 21 but that could be delayed because he is scheduled to cooperate with the prosecution in trials involving two co-defendants.

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

He was sentenced in the Arizona case to nine years in prison. The plea bargains call for his sentences to be served concurrently in federal prison.

Sharper helped lead the Saints to a Super Bowl victory in 2010. He was a broadcaster for the NFL Network when the rape allegations surfaced and he was arrested in 2013.

Reporting by Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Editing by Doina Chiacu

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