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Darren Sharper draws 18-year sentence

Janet McConnaughey
Associated Press

New Orleans — Former NFL star Darren Sharper was sentenced Thursday to more than 18 years in prison for drugging women in order to rape them — double the sentence recommended by prosecutors.

Sharper, a former Packers, Vikings and Saints safety, jailed since February 2014, apologized and appeared chastened by his fall from grace.

“I would like to apologize a thousand times,” Sharper, 40, said. Later, he said, looking down and sighing, “I’m still trying to figure out why I made some of these choices.”

His voice quivered and choked with emotion when he apologized to his parents.

One of Sharper’s victims — the only one to speak at his sentencing hearing — rebuffed his display of contrition.

“For the list of people you’ve done this to: Go to hell,” she said. Her name was not given in court, and The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual abuse by name.

U.S. District Judge Jane Triche Milazzo, in sentencing Sharper, told him she couldn’t understand how he did what he did, since he was college educated and obviously had grown up “in one of the most loving households.”

“We can never ignore the damage you inflicted on those women and society at large,” she said.

Sharper had pleaded guilty in federal court in New Orleans to drugging three women so he could rape them. He also has pleaded guilty or no contest in state courts in Louisiana, Arizona, California and Nevada to charges arising from allegations of drugging and raping women.

Defense attorney Billy Gibbens asked for leniency because Sharper’s testimony helped get “late” guilty pleas from two codefendants who will be sentenced in October.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael McMahon told the judge, “I don’t think Mr. Sharper has really wrapped his head around the fact that he is a serial rapist.”

Meanwhile, the tearful victim told Sharper because of arrogance and “clear stupidity,” he kept drugging and raping women even after he knew she was talking to state and federal investigators.

She said she understands that people make mistakes. “But it wasn’t a mistake. A mistake happens once and you never make it again.” Rather, she said, it was “a way of life for you and your friends.”

Prosecutors suggested a 9-year prison term for Sharper under a multi-jurisdictional plea deal, but Milazzo rejected it in June as too lenient. The sentence she imposed, 18 years and four months imprisonment, was 15 months short of the maximum. Sharper also was fined $20,000. His sentence will run concurrently with any state sentence.

The judge said he will be on three years’ supervised release after he gets out of prison, including “sex treatment conditions” and registration as a sex offender.

Sharper or his friend Brandon Licciardi, a former sheriff’s deputy in neighboring St. Bernard Parish, put anti-anxiety drugs or sedatives into women’s drinks so they could rape them, according to a 15-page statement signed as part of Sharper’s plea agreement.

Milazzo has scheduled sentencing Oct. 13 for Licciardi and a second New Orleans codefendant, Erik Nunez. Charges around the country involve nine victims, but Milazzo has said in court there may be as many as 16.