Documents: Men admitted to crimes
On the eve of separate court appearances scheduled for Darren Sharper and Erik Nunez, the former Saints star’s suspected accomplice in two alleged rapes last year in the Warehouse District, New Orleans police documents allege the men admitted to others about having nonconsensual sex with two women last fall.
Those new details are included in the applications for the arrest warrants for Sharper, 38, and Nunez, 26, that were released this week.
According to the documents, the two women each told police they were raped while under the influence of an unknown substance Sept. 23 at a location in the 700 block of Tchoupitoulas Street where Sharper either lived or was staying.
The details of the alleged rapes that night are similar to those Sharper has been accused of in Los Angeles; Las Vegas; Miami Beach, Fla.; and Tempe, Ariz.
One of the women told New Orleans police she woke up at some point in a “stupor” and found a nude Sharper on top of her. She said she was disoriented but believed Sharper was having sex with her. She said she never consented to that.
The other woman said she woke up later in a similar state and faced the same situation. She, too, said she did not agree to have sex with Sharper.
A “known acquaintance” later entered the apartment with a key and saw Sharper in boxer shorts, according to the warrant. That person then saw Nunez walk out of a bedroom, also wearing nothing but boxers.
Other unidentified people later told detectives that Sharper and Nunez said they had either vaginal or oral sex with the women “without their knowledge or permission,” according to court documents.
One of the women underwent a sexual-assault exam a day later at Interim LSU Hospital. That test found Sharper’s DNA was present, according to court documents filed in Los Angeles.
It is not clear whether the second woman was tested.
Sharper’s attorneys have said he maintains his innocence. Jeff Smith, Nunez’s attorney, said last week there had been no evidence presented linking his client to any crimes.
Sharper, who was free in Los Angeles on $1 million bail after pleading not guilty to two rape charges in that city, surrendered Feb. 27 after an Orleans Parish magistrate judge signed the arrest warrants. Nunez, who lives in Metairie, surrendered to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office.
Both men remain jailed without bail.
A magistrate judge signed an order Feb. 28 to hold Nunez without bail after the D.A.’s Office said he was a flight risk because it claimed he worked for the Saints organization and had the means to leave town.
Smith blasted that decision, saying the employment claim was wrong and that he had been in touch with prosecutors the night before and said he would go with Nunez when he surrendered.
A hearing on Nunez’s bail is set for 10 a.m. Friday at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.
An extradition hearing for Sharper is set for 3:30 p.m. at Los Angeles Superior Court.
Nandi Campbell, Sharper’s attorney in New Orleans, could not say if he plans to waive extradition, meaning he would allow local authorities to bring him to New Orleans without going through court proceedings. “We’re just waiting to see what happens there tomorrow,” she said.
Sharper was prepared to come to New Orleans to surrender in person after he learned of the warrant for his arrest, Campbell said, but New Orleans police declined that offer.
Campbell said Sharper “immediately” went to the office of Blair Berk, his Los Angeles attorney, after New Orleans police announced they were searching for him. He spoke there with Berk and Campbell, by phone, about options for turning himself in.
Campbell said Sharper was willing to wear an electronic monitoring device or have Berk travel with him as an officer of the court and to pay for the flight.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas, however, declined that offer.
“After conducting many interviews and collecting substantial evidence, the New Orleans Police Department issued an arrest warrant for Darren Sharper, who is accused of the aggravated rapes of two women in New Orleans. If convicted of these crimes, Mr. Sharper may be sentenced to two life sentences in prison,” Serpas said in a prepared statement. “This Police Department was not willing to negotiate with Sharper’s attorneys considering the dire seriousness of these allegations.”
Campbell said she did not know why the request was declined, noting that Sharper had strict restrictions while free on bail in Los Angeles and no longer has a passport since he had to surrender it after his first court hearing in California.
“That order came straight from Serpas, that it (self-surrender) was not allowed,” Campbell said.
Also on Thursday, an Orleans Parish magistrate judge signed an order to preserve evidence in the case.
The order, requested by Nunez’s attorneys, says that items including police materials related to interviews, phone records of victims, witnesses or Nunez, and physical evidence — such as clothing, bedding and hair samples for independent testing, as well as evidence obtained during sexual-assault exams of the alleged victims — all must be maintained for the defense to review.
Sharper, the former Saints safety, was an NFL Network studio analyst after retiring from the game. The network said last week that it has fired Sharper, who had been suspended since his arrest in January.