A federal judge in Louisiana has rejected a global plea deal that would have given former NFL player Darren Sharper a prison sentence of 9 years for serial rapes he allegedly committed in multiple states.
U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo called the sentence "inappropriate" in court Thursday, according to the Advocate.
Sharper entered a guilty plea in 2015 to charges that he committed nine rapes in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Louisiana over the course of 4 years. As part of a proposed plea deal, the football star was to receive a sentence of 10 years in federal prison with credit for more than a year of time already served and a concurrent 10-year sentence in a California state prison. Prior to the plea, Sharper was facing life in prison.
Sharper played in the NFL for 14 seasons and won a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints in 2010. He was working as an analyst for NFL Network at the time he was charged.
Judge Milazzo said Thursday that sentence guidelines in Sharper's case called for 15-20 years in prison, up to twice as long as the proposed 9-year sentence deal. The judge allowed Sharper and his attorney until March 3 — the day of Sharper's sentencing — to revoke his guilty plea.
Sharper also has the option to negotiate a new plea deal that imposes a longer prison sentence, more consistent with sentencing guidelines. If the original plea is not withdrawn or a new plea is not reached, Sharper could be tried in court for his alleged crimes and information he gave during plea discussions could be used against him.
Sharper's 9-year sentence deal, announced in 2015, was heavily criticized for appearing too lenient for a man accused of up to 16 sexual assaults during a 4-year span. Judge Milazzo's ruling reflects that sentiment: "This court cannot accept this plea agreement," Milazzo said, according to the AP.
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Lindsey Adler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.