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September 21, 2014

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Sharper charged with sexual assault in Arizona

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AP Photo/Mario Anzuoni

Former NFL safety Darren Sharper looks toward his attorney Blair Berk during an appearance in Los Angeles Superior Court in Los Angeles, where he pleaded not guilty Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, to charges of drugging and raping two women.

PHOENIX — Former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper has been indicted in Arizona on charges of sexual assault and administering dangerous drugs, authorities said Wednesday, marking the latest development in investigations in five states involving the Super Bowl champion.

A Maricopa County grand jury indicted Sharper in sexual assaults allegedly committed on Nov. 21 in Tempe. The four-page indictment dated Tuesday accuses the 38-year-old Sharper of two counts of sexual assault and three counts of administering dangerous drugs.

Sharper knowingly administered the sedative zolpidem to three different victims and then had "sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact" with two of them without their consent, the document states.

Sharper is currently in custody in Los Angeles, where he has pleaded not guilty to seven rape and drug counts in connection with two alleged attacks in Hollywood. He had been freed on $1 million bail before turning himself in when an arrest warrant was issued in New Orleans.

In Arizona, police reports released earlier say two women in their early 20s had claimed Sharper drugged and sexually assaulted them at a Tempe apartment after a group including Sharper went drinking at bars in nearby Scottsdale.

One of the women told police she hadn't had any alcohol that night until Sharper insisted she drink a shot. Another young woman said she had been drugged then went to bed, locked her door and wasn't attacked.

The next day, one of the women confronted Sharper, who denied wrongdoing, according to the reports.

The reports said Sharper was in Arizona to visit a woman who lived at the apartment. The two had met about a year earlier in Las Vegas.

Skip Donau, a Tucson attorney who represents Sharper in the Arizona case, declined to discuss specifics.

"We know that Darren will vigorously deny the allegations," Donau said. "We are hopeful of vindication."

In Los Angeles, Superior Court Judge Renee Korn said last week that it was unfair to hold Sharper in jail there "into perpetuity" and gave prosecutors in Louisiana until Thursday to charge him or otherwise seek his return.

Prosecutors in New Orleans said Wednesday that Sharper would not be indicted by that deadline and the investigation remained open.

It could not be immediately determined if Arizona authorities would ask that Sharper be held longer in Los Angeles or would seek his extradition. Jerry Cobb, a spokesman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, declined to comment.

Sharper is also under investigation in Florida and Nevada.

In a bail motion filed last month, Los Angeles County Investigator John Maccharella described a pattern in which the former football star met women at clubs or parties and lured them to a hotel room, where they were allegedly drugged and raped.

The New Orleans warrant says police learned from witnesses that Sharper and an associate had acknowledged having nonconsensual sex with two women. Sharper's attorneys say he never made such statements.

The warrant does not elaborate on how the information was obtained or disclose the names of the witnesses.

Sharper was selected All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl five times. He played in two Super Bowls, one with the Green Bay Packers as a rookie and was part of a successful championship run while with the New Orleans Saints.

He retired after the 2010 season and was working as an analyst for the NFL Network before being fired recently.

Associated Press writers Kevin McGill in New Orleans and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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