Ex-NFL player accused of rape, pleads ‘not guilty’

Ex-NFL player accused of rape

Darren Sharper pleads “not guilty” to rape charge

Over the past 20 years, numerous athletes have been accused of a sexual assault crime, according to Pact5, a sexual assault prevention movement. Former NFL star Darren Sharper is simply one more to add to the long list — but this should not detract from the severity of their actions.

On Feb. 20, Sharper pled not guilty for allegedly drugging and raping two women in Los Angeles County.

According to a police report, Sharper deliberately drugged the victims with morphine and Ambien.

“He hangs out with them in clubs,” said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Stacy Okun-Wiese in a court statement, according to CNN. “(He) takes them back. It’s the same story.

“He gives them a shot. They black out.”

Additionally, the former NFL star is also under investigation in Las Vegas, Miami, New Orleans and Tempe, Ariz. for similar crimes.

“He’s out there preying on women,” said Okun-Wiese, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Due to his past stardom, NFL fans were stunned by the accusations of rape made againstSharper.

“He seemed like a pretty well-rounded man,” said first-year football player Karl Roberts. “He had his life together.”

Senior football player Faris El-Ali, on the contrary, was not surprised to hear about the unfortunate case.

“It is not shocking at all considering the unbelievably high rate of sexual assaults across the country,” said El-Ali.

Defense attorney Blair Berk said that his client was innocent after Sharper’s first court appearance.

“We look forward to the true facts being revealed in this case,” said Berk in an interview with The L.A. Times.

On the other hand, how could Sharper’s lawyers overlook indisputable evidence?

“They have the facts,” said sophomore and Sexual Assault Awareness, Support and Advocacy member Naomi Madaras. “The victims of rape (are) letting people know, but the lawyers are saying that those aren’t the true facts.”

Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger paid over $380,000 to his alleged rape victim, according to USA Today. Unlike Sharper, Roethlisberger’s case did not hit the court.

While Roethlisberger was accused of rape once again in March 2010, no charges were filed against the quarterback, despite past accusations against him.

“He will get preferential treatment as a wealthy individual,” said El-Ali. “Those who can afford to manipulate the judicial system … prevail in cases like this.”

On the other hand, similar to Kobe Bryant’s rape case in 2003, the judicial system usually acquits star professional athletes.

“Our country tends to give athletes preferential treatment,” said Madaras. “Even at the level of high school athletes like with the Steubenville case in Ohio.”

Does preferential treatment towards athletes affect Guilford?

“When an athlete gets in trouble, the first people contacted are the coaches,” said O’Neill.  “Athletes have gotten into trouble that should have resulted in serious sanctions, but (they) still play.”

Head football coach Chris Rusiewicz disagreed with O’Neill’s statement.

“If anyone got charged with a crime, they would not be part of our program,” said Rusiewicz.

El-Ali said that the judicial system is the same for everyone.

“Guilford athletes (do not) get preferential treatment,” said El-Ali. “They are subject to the exact same judicial system as all other students.”

However, there is evidence that suggests student athletes do in fact get preferential treatment on campus.

“Last year (a student) was raped by a guy on the football team,” said first-year Darion Bayles. “When she went to Judicial, they had him watch a movie and write a one-page paper.

“He still goes here.

Madaras claims to have seen this occur on more than one occasion at Guilford.

“I know a couple of cases where male athletes haven’t had the full extent of their punishment for sexually assaulting someone,” said Madaras.  “In one case, it was extremely biased because all of the witnesses were on the football team.”

Hopefully justice will triumph stardom in Shaper’s case.

“People shouldn’t hold up his athletic accomplishments over what has been done,” said O’Neill.

“This is one of the worst crimes you can commit,” said assistant football coach and offensive coordinator Chris Barnette. “I don’t think anyone should get preferential treatment.”