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Former NFL safety pleads not guilty in rape case

The Associated Press
Former NFL safety pleads not guilty in rape case
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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Former NFL safety Darren Sharper pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges that he drugged and raped two women he met at a West Hollywood night club, while the emergence of a new accuser in Florida left him under investigation in five states.

Lawyers for Sharper, who played in the NFL from 1997 to 2010 primarily with the Green Bay Packers, said they would prove that any sexual contact Sharper engaged in was welcomed.

''All of these were consensual contact between Mr. Sharper and women who wanted to be in his company,'' said attorney Leonard Levine.

But a prosecutor pointed out the many investigations against Sharper in places including Tucson, Ariz., Las Vegas and New Orleans, and asked a judge for $10 million bail.

The judge rejected that as excessive, though increased it from $200,000 to $1 million.

''The court considers these crimes quite serious and has to protect the public,'' Superior Court Judge Renee Korn said.

Sharper, wearing a gray suit and black t-shirt, came to court with his lawyers and a bail bondsman who immediately arranged to post his bail.

The judge ordered Sharper to remain in Los Angeles, stay away from nightclubs and not be alone with any woman he did not know before October, when the first allegations emerged.

The judge set a court date for April 15 to schedule a preliminary hearing. Korn rejected a bid by defense attorney Blair Berk to shut down the release of information in the case.

''We're asking to litigate this in a court of law, not by Twitter feed and entertainment shows,'' said Berk.

The latest allegations surfaced in a Miami Beach police report released Thursday. It was filed Jan. 19 - more than a year after the alleged attack. No charges have been filed but Detective Vivian Hernandez said the investigation remains open.

The report states that the accuser and two friends went to a club in the fall of 2012 and met Sharper and another man. All five left the club at approximately 4 a.m. and Sharper drove them all to his condo. The victim admitted to being extremely intoxicated.

The victims' two friends told her the next day that she went into a bedroom with Sharper and he closed the door behind them. The friends said they heard her telling Sharper ''No, no. Stop, I don't want to.'' They began knocking on the door, entered the room and attempted to take the victim home. The victim can't remember what she said except that she wanted to sleep.

The victim said she awoke around 9 a.m. to find her pants off and Sharper having sex with her. She said she asked ''what's going on'' and Sharper got up and put on a pair of shorts. Sharper told her they didn't have sex. He then walked her to her car in a parking garage.

The victim said she went to be examined a week later. She made the police report after a friend saw that Sharper was arrested for sexual battery.

If convicted in the California case, Sharper could face more than 30 years in state prison.

Sharper was selected All-Pro six times and chosen for the Pro Bowl five times. He played in two Super Bowls, one with the Packers as a rookie and a second with the Saints.

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AP Writer Kareem Copeland in Miami contributed to this story.

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