(Reuters) - Former NFL star Darren Sharper admitted in court on Monday to drugging and raping women in California and Arizona and was expected to plead guilty in a similar Nevada case in plea deals prosecutors say will land him in prison for at least nine years.
Appearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Sharper entered a plea of no-contest, the legal equivalent of guilty, to two counts of rape by use of drugs and four counts of furnishing a controlled substance, the prescription sleep medication Zolpidem, sold under the brand name Ambien.
The charges stem from two occasions in late 2013 and early 2014 in which Sharper was accused of picking up two women from a nightclub, spiking their drinks and assaulting one of the women in each case after bringing them back to a hotel room.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said the five-time Pro Bowl National Football League safety was expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison under the terms of his plea deal there, and it was not immediately clear if or when Sharper, 39, might be eligible for parole. Formal sentencing on California charges was set for July 15.
In Arizona, Sharper was also accused of raping two women after spiking their drinks at an apartment in a Phoenix suburb in November 2013. A Maricopa County grand jury indicted him last March on two counts of sexual assault and three counts of administering dangerous drugs in connection with the allegations.
In a plea deal to settle that case, Sharper admitted to one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted sexual assault and was sentenced to nine years in prison, according to prosecutors.
Under that deal, Sharper will serve his time in a federal prison concurrent with any sentence he may receive in Louisiana, where he faces similar charges, a Maricopa County attorney spokesman said.
The Arizona plea was entered by video conference from Los Angeles shortly before his court hearing there. He was scheduled to appear in court by video conference on Tuesday in Las Vegas, where he has agreed to plead guilty to one count of attempted sexual assault on two women he is accused of drugging and raping in January 2014. A prosecutor's spokeswoman said the Nevada plea deal called for him to serve three to eight years, concurrent with his terms in other states.
Sharper, who helped the New Orleans Saints win the 2010 Super Bowl, has also been charged with sexually assaulting two women at his New Orleans apartment in September 2013.
Sharper played for the Saints, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings during a standout 14-year NFL career that ended after the 2010 season. He worked as an on-air analyst for the NFL Network until his arrest in Los Angeles.