Few things are a harsher reminder that professional athletes shouldn’t be role models than when they fall from grace.
In the case of former Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowler, six-time All-Pro and two-time NFL interceptions leader Darren Sharper, that fall from grace has been particularly ugly and sinister.
The 43-year-old Sharper, who last played in the NFL in 2010, had previously admitted to drugging and sexually assaulting at least nine (and up to 16) women in four states: Louisiana, Arizona, California and Nevada.
The plea deal he struck in 2015, wherein Sharper pleaded guilty or no contest on all charges, originally had been designed to carry a nine-year prison term.
Sharper and his new attorneys claimed that his previous legal counsel failed to advise him properly on the complex deal, which fell apart after U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo refused to sign off on it. Instead, she sentenced Sharper to over 18 years in prison.
Now, Milazzo has rejected the former NFL star’s latest bid to have his 18-year prison sentence thrown out, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.
For Sharper, this was always a desperate and long-shot move to get out of his prison term, which will currently see him behind bars until February 2030.
Milazzo denied the motion in an order signed on Wednesday. She had additional reasons documented, dated July 9 and made public Wednesday.
“This Court believes that Sharper’s claim that he did not know the terms of his plea agreement and that his attorneys had not counseled him regarding the agreement is merely an attempt to avoid the harsh consequences of his actions,” Milazzo wrote, according to The Associated Press.
When Milazzo originally rejected the sentence for being too light in 2015, she gave Sharper the option to withdraw his pleas. He opted against that, and Milazzo sentenced him to 18 years and four months.
Sharper filed a 50-page motion last summer arguing that his previous legal team had left him in the lurch. The Virginia native contended that he had to keep his guilty plea in order to avoid putting himself at risk of state prosecutions, where his admissions could be used against him.
Milazzo, for her part, wasn’t buying that he was left out of the loop.
“The record shows that Sharper knew the terms of his plea agreement and that his attorneys worked closely with him in counseling him throughout his case,” Milazzo wrote.
Sharper was arrested in 2014 amid allegations that he had drugged and raped multiple women across four states.
The former All-Pro safety excelled as a ball-hawking defensive back for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints. Across 14 years in the NFL, Sharper notched 63 interceptions, 11 defensive touchdowns and eight forced fumbles.
At the age of 34, Sharper posted one of his best seasons as a pro, tallying nine interceptions and three defensive touchdowns while helping the Saints win the franchise’s first Super Bowl win.
Sharper is being held at a minimum-security federal prison in Otisville, New York.
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