LOS ANGELES — Former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper has been ordered held in jail without bail by a Los Angeles judge, who warned she would have to free him soon if charges aren’t filed against him in a similar case in Louisiana.
Friday’s ruling was the latest development in several ongoing sexual assault investigations involving the 38-year-old Sharper in Louisiana, California, Florida, Arizona and Nevada.
He has been charged by Los Angeles prosecutors with seven rape and drug counts in connection with two alleged attacks in Hollywood. He pleaded not guilty and had been freed on US$1 million bail, but was taken into custody again when New Orleans police issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with two more alleged rapes.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Renee Korn said it was unfair to hold Sharper “into perpetuity,” and set a hearing for Thursday to give Louisiana prosecutors time to charge Sharper or for that state’s governor to seek his return through another type of warrant.
In a bail motion filed last month, Los Angeles County Investigator John Maccharella described a pattern in which the former football star met women at clubs or parties and lured them to a hotel room, where they were allegedly drugged and raped.
The New Orleans warrant says police learned from witnesses that Sharper and associate Erik Nunez had acknowledged having non-consensual sex with two women.
It does not elaborate on how the information was obtained or disclose the names of the witnesses.
Sharper’s lawyers say he never made such statements and the arrest warrant was a pretext to hold him indefinitely without bail.
Prosecutors, however, said they were following the law.
Chris Bowman, a spokesman for New Orleans District Attorney Leon A. Cannizzaro Jr., said he could not comment on whether Sharper would be charged before the Thursday deadline set by Judge Korn.
“It’s an open investigation,” Bowman said. “I’m not going to comment on it.
“I’m not going to put a timetable on it.”
In Los Angeles, Deputy District Attorney Javan Wygal said it would be difficult for Louisiana authorities to prosecute Sharper because under the laws of that state, the case there would expire within four months if Sharper isn’t tried.
Sharper was selected All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl five times. He played in two Super Bowls, one with the Green Bay Packers as a rookie and was part of a successful championship run while with the New Orleans Saints.
He retired after the 2010 season and was working as an analyst for the NFL Network before being fired last week.
Leonard Levine, a lawyer for Sharper in Los Angeles, has said Sharper will be cleared in the cases.
“All of these were consensual contact between Mr. Sharper and women who wanted to be in his company,” Levine said after a court hearing last month.
Nunez, a waiter, has been arrested in New Orleans, where a judge Friday set his bail at $400,000. His lawyer Herbert Larson said prosecutors only had hearsay evidence against his client.
Court documents in Los Angeles state Sharper has submitted DNA samples to New Orleans police and agreed to turn himself in there if he is charged. Nunez also submitted DNA in the case, Larson said, adding his client is not a flight risk.
Sharper had been released on bail in Los Angeles on the condition he remain in the city, stay away from nightclubs and not be alone with any woman he did not know before October, when the first allegations emerged.
His lawyers contend he did not violate any of those terms before turning himself in after the Louisiana warrant was issued.