Darren Sharper of NFL fame was arrested Friday evening in Los Angeles on felony charges of rape, which is nothing new in the world of professional sports. The 38-year-old Sharper, a former Pro Bowl safety, who most currently appeared as an analyst on the NFL Network, played in the NFL from 1997-2010 for the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints.
The website of the L.A. County Sheriff states that Sharper was taken into custody at 3 p.m. and booked into jail at 5 p.m. He was released around midnight after posting bail of $200,000 and is scheduled to appear in L.A.’s Municipal Court on Feb. 14.
According to TMZ, Sharper’s arrest involves two separate allegations of rape. One woman claims that she was raped in October of 2013, while the other alleges being raped in January of 2014. Both women claim that the rapes occurred in hotel rooms in L.A. The identities of the alleged victims have not been released.
The NFL Network has suspended Darren Sharper indefinitely and without pay, but issued no comment on the charges due to company policy on legal matters.
WWL-TV in New Orleans reports that Sharper is currently under investigation by the New Orleans Police Department in connection with a sexual assault in Sept. 2013. They report that a woman filed a complaint with the New Orleans police department alleging that she had been sexually assaulted by Darren Sharper. The NOPD’s investigation is still open and is being actively investigated. Sources have told WDSU that the alleged assault occurred in a private home located in the city’s Warehouse District.
In 2009, while playing with the New Orleans Saints, Sharper led the NFL with three return touchdowns, nine interceptions and 376 interception return yards. The season ended with the Saints winning Super Bowl XLIV.
During his successful career, Sharper, who spent the majority of his time playing for the Green Bay Packers, played in five Pro Bowls and was named an All-Pro twice. He was also elected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team (2000s) before retiring after the 2010 season.
Even before Darren Sharper was arrested on Friday, athletes being charged with rape was nothing new in the world of professional sports. In 1992, heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was convicted of raping an 18-year-old woman in an Indianapolis hotel. Tyson served three years in prison for the rape of the beauty pageant contestant, and never returned to the great levels of boxing success he had enjoyed prior to his conviction.
Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant was arrested in June 2003 for allegedly raping a hotel employee in his Colorado hotel room. Bryant was charged with sexual assault, but maintained that the sex had been consensual. After 14 months of legal back-and-forth, the prosecution was forced to drop the case when the alleged victim decided to not go forward with the trial.
Ben Roethlisberger, quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was twice accused of sexual assault. The first alleged attack was reported to have taken place in Lake Tahoe in 2009. He faced accusations of a second attack in 2010 that allegedly occurred in a college town in Georgia. Although no charges were filed in either case, Roethlisberger was suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2010 season by the NFL, who found that he had violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
Neither Darren Sharper nor his representatives have issued a comment regarding his recent arrest on rape charges, which are sadly nothing new in professional sports.
By Jennifer Pfalz