By Brandon Lowrey
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Former NFL player Darren Sharper, facing California charges of drugging and raping two women, will not immediately be sent to Louisiana where he is wanted on suspicion of rape in a separate incident, a judge ruled on Friday in an extradition hearing.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Renee Korn ordered the 38-year-old former defensive back, who is under investigation for sex crimes in several U.S. states, to remain held behind bars in Los Angeles pending another hearing on Thursday.
Sharper, who played 14 years in the National Football League and helped the New Orleans Saints to a 2010 Super Bowl title, is accused of drugging four women in Los Angeles and raping two of them. He faces similar accusations in Louisiana. Sharper has pleaded not guilty in Los Angeles and his attorney has said prosecutors in Louisiana do not have enough evidence against him.
In California, prosecutors say he met two women at a night club in October and brought them to a Los Angeles hotel room, where he gave both a drug-spiked drink and raped one, prosecutors said in court papers. He is accused of doing the same to another pair of women in California in January.
In Louisiana, New Orleans police asked to have him extradited there on an arrest warrant over a similar accusation, and he was taken into custody by Los Angeles police on February 27 in connection with that warrant.
Sharper is accused of sexually assaulting two women in New Orleans in September while they were impaired, according to papers from Los Angeles prosecutors, citing an affidavit in the case. New Orleans police have said he was joined by an acquaintance in committing the crimes.
In declining on Friday to send Sharper to New Orleans, the judge said that to have him sent there in line with a request from police in that city, he would have to be either formally charged by prosecutors there or have his extradition requested by the Louisiana governor.
"The court is quite troubled by the fact that there isn't an indictment or information filed," Korn said. "To hold him into perpetuity on an arrest warrant seems to be grotesquely unfair."
Sharper was ordered to return to court in Los Angeles for another hearing on Thursday related to the extradition request, and the judge said that before that time prosecutors in New Orleans might file charges against him.
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Javan Wygal said his office has not agreed to send Sharper back to New Orleans before the resolution of the California case.
Los Angeles prosecutors have in court papers also cited sex crime investigations against Sharper in Nevada and Arizona, which they describe as also involving women who say they were given drinks that caused them to pass out. Police in Miami Beach, Florida, have said they too were investigating Sharper.
"The Los Angeles County District Attorney is working in close concert with New Orleans law enforcement to unlawfully keep Mr. Sharper in custody," said his attorney, Blair Berk.
A spokesman for the Orleans Parish District Attorney could not be reached for comment.
Sharper was staying in California while working as an analyst for NFL Network, but was terminated by the network after he was charged.
(Reporting by Brandon Lowrey, additional reporting by Steve Gorman and Dana Feldman, Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Lisa Shumaker)