Darren Sharper sentenced to 18 years in prison in drug, rape cases

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Former NFL Player Darren Sharper Sentenced for Rape

NEW ORLEANS, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Former National Football League star Darren Sharper was sentenced on Thursday to 18 years in federal prison in a case stemming from accusations that he drugged and raped women in four states while working as a television analyst.

Sharper, 40, who retired from the NFL in 2011 after helping lead the New Orleans Saints to a Super Bowl championship, had pleaded guilty in federal court in Louisiana in May 2015 to distributing controlled substances to three unsuspecting women and then having sex with them while they were incapacitated.

He also pleaded guilty or no contest last year to rape or attempted rape charges involving nine women, including in Arizona, California and Nevada.

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"I would like to apologize a thousand times to plaintiffs in this case for making them victims," Sharper said in the federal court in New Orleans, tearful in shackles and orange prisoner garb. "They didn't deserve anything, or to be a part of this heinous decision, which is all on me."

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo sentenced him to 220 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. She recommended he receive credit for time already served.

Only one of Sharper's victims, a young woman with long blond hair, chose to address the court during sentencing, saying he had given her a drug that could have killed her - and similarly abused multiple others.

"Go to hell," she said before turning away from the podium.

Federal prosecutor Mike McMahon said the sentence did not resolve Sharper's other pending cases, including ones in state courts.

In February, Milazzo rejected a proposed plea deal that carried a nine-year prison sentence for the five-time NFL Pro Bowl defensive back, calling it too lenient given the seriousness of all the allegations against him.

The revised plea agreement allowed Milazzo to consider allegations made by 16 purported victims of Sharper's sexual violence, some of which did not result in formal charges.

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Sharper's 14-year career in the NFL included stints with the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings. He was working as an NFL Network analyst when women began to allege that they had blacked out while drinking with him and woke up to find they had been sexually abused.

He was charged in Louisiana with drugging three women with the intent of raping them in 2013.

Milazzo agreed in June to delay Sharper's sentencing so prosecutors could evaluate his cooperation in the cases of two co-defendants accused of participating in the Louisiana incidents.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)

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Darren Sharper through the years
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Darren Sharper through the years
GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Free Safety Darren Sharper #42 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates in front of Defensive Tackle Billy Lyon #98 during the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on November 10, 2002 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 40-14. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS - 2005: Darren Sharper of the Minnesota Vikings poses for his 2005 NFL headshot at photo day in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS - SEPTEMBER 21: Darren Sharper #42 of the Minnesota Vikings leaves the field after an NFL game against the Carolina Panthers at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, September 21, 2008 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 4: Safety Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates his second interception against the New York Jets when the New Orleans Saints host the New York Jets at Louisiana Superdome on October 4, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Players and coaches wore pink equipment to promote Breast Cancer Awareness. The Saints defeated the Jets 24-10. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 16: Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates as he walks off the field after their 45-14 win against the Arizona Cardinals during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Louisana Superdome on January 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 30: Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints intercepts the ball against the New England Patriots at the Louisiana Superdome on November 30, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 31: Darren Sharper #42 of the New Orleans Saints celebrates a play against the Pittsburgh Steelers at the Louisiana Superdome on October 31, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Matthew Sharpe/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 14: Former pro football player Darren Sharper appears in court along with his attorneys Blair Berk (R) and Leonard Levine (L) on February 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Sharper was charged today with drugging and raping two woman, one in October and the other last month, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced. (Photo by Liz O. Baylen-Pool/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA FEBRUARY 20: Former NFL safety Darren Sharper pleads not guilty to charges of allegedly drugging and raping a pair of women he met at a West Hollywood nightclub, in a Los Angeles Superior courtroom February 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Sharper's bail has been increased from $200,000 to $1 million. (Photo by Bob Chamberlin-Pool/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 24: Former NFL player Darren Sharper sits in a Los Angeles courtroom during a bail hearing on March 24, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Sharper is awaiting trial in Los Angeles after pleading not guilty to charges that he raped and drugged two women last year. He was previously released on $1 million bail before being charged in Arizona with similar counts. (Photo by Wally Skalij-Pool/Getty Images)
Former NFL safety Darren Sharper (L) and his attorney, Blair Berk (C), listen as his other attorney Leonard Levine (R) addresses court on February 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, as Sharper pleads not guilty to charges of drugging and raping a pair of women he allegedly met at a West Hollywood nightclub and his bail has been increased from $200,000 to $1 million in Department 30 of the Los Angeles Superior Court on February 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Pool / Bob Chamberlin (Photo credit should read Bob Chamberlin/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 23: Former NFL safety Darren Sharper (R) appears in court with his lawyer Lisa Wayne (L) at Los Angeles Superior Court March 23, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Sharper pleaded guilty to charges of sexually assaulting a woman in Arizona as part of a broader plea deal and was sentenced to nine years in federal prison. Sharper is facing charges in four states for allegedly drugging woman and sexually assaulting them. (Photo by Nick Ut-Pool/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA, MARCH 23, 2015: (lt to rt) Former NFL star Darren Sharper and his attorney Leonard B. Levine listen carefully to the details of a plea in Los Angeles Superior Court that could send him to federal prison for nine years for the numerous sexual assault charges against him March 23, 2015. (^^^ / Los Angeles Times ). (Photo by Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
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