Former NFL safety pro bowler and Super Bowl champ Darren Sharper has been charged with seven felony drug and rape counts in connection with two separate incidents, the New York Daily News reports. If convicted, Sharper faces 30 years in prison.
The Daily News notes that Sharper, 38, is also under investigation in at least three other states (Louisiana, Arizona and Nevada) for allegedly drugging women and waiting until they passed out to sexually assault them.
According to the felony complaint viewed by the Daily News and filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Sharper is accused of using the drug zolpidem (more commonly known as the sleeping aid Ambien) to drug his alleged victims.
"We've seen (zolpidem) in a lot of cases because it works very well," former LAPD detective in the narcotics division, Trinka Porrata, who is also the president of the nonprofit Project GHB, told the Daily News. "In some instances, zolpidem is similar to GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate) in that it causes amnesia and causes odd behavior a person wouldn't otherwise normally do."
GHB is commonly referred to as the "date rape drug," but Porrata said zolpidem is a more accessible drug and easier to explain if found in a sexual predator's or serial rapist's possession.
"For a sports guy, Ambien is something that they would more likely be known to have," said Porrata. Professional athletes maintain grueling travel schedules as well as punishing physical training programs. "Plus, Ambien is totally legit to have since you're not carrying around illicit drugs."
According to a press release from the L.A. County D.A.'s office and viewed by the Daily News, Sharper invited two women he met at a West Hollywood nightclub on Oct. 30 to his hotel and gave each of them a shot of alcohol, which caused them both to pass out. "Jane Doe #1 allegedly woke up naked hours later with Sharper sexually assaulting her. The second woman allegedly awoke and 'interrupted his actions,' " according to the D.A.'s press release, the Daily News reports.
A similar chain of events is alleged to have happened Jan. 14 and early Jan. 15 of this year when Sharper met two separate women at the same L.A. club, invited them back to his hotel room and drugged them with alcohol shots, the Daily News reports. One of the women believes that Sharper assaulted her while she was unconscious. Both women sought medical treatment after visiting Sharper's hotel room.
The Daily News notes that Sharper is currently under investigation for near-identical, alleged drug-rape incidents in New Orleans, Tempe, Ariz., and Las Vegas.
One of his lawyers, Blair Berk, said outside the courtroom that his legal team hoped their client would be "fully exonerated before this case is concluded," the Daily News reports.
Read more at the New York Daily News.