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Hermitage High removes Darren Sharper from school’s Hall of Fame after rape plea

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Posted at 8:15 AM, Mar 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-24 08:15:56-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Retired NFL star and Henrico County native Darren Sharper changed course and pleaded guilty Monday to one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted sexual assault. Sharper has been in jail in Los Angeles since last year, but this case was in Arizona. Sharper and his attorney had a telephone meeting with Judge Warren Granville, where the former player and television analyst changed his plea.

The judge sentenced Sharper to nine years in prison with no eligibility for early release, Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb said. Sharper will also be placed on lifetime probation afterward. Sharper, a five-time Pro Bowl player, originally faced five counts of drugging and raping three women in Scottsdale, Arizona, in November 2013. Before being indicted in Arizona, Sharper was arrested in California on charges of drugging and raping two women in that state. He was also under investigation in other states. Florida prosecutors announced last year they would not prosecute Sharper on similar allegations, but he faces federal charges in Louisiana.

Before he became an NFL star, Sharper was a standout athlete at the College of William and Mary and Hermitage High School.

"That’s where Darren’s plaque was," Director of Student Activities at Hermitage High School Chris Rollison said while pointing to the school’s Hall of Fame wall. Rollison removed all of the pictures and memorabilia on display in the cafeteria when he learned about Sharper’s plea.

Hermitage tennis Coach Joe Coulter also coached Sharper on the high school's basketball team.

"Never in my life did I think I would be standing here talking about Darren in this situation," Coulter said.

He said Sharper was not only an exceptional athlete, but also a great student and a good guy.

"He was definitely bound for great things," Coulter said.

Coulter said it is hard to imagine Sharper drugging women and then raping them knowing how successful and popular he was in school.

"I know he was a ladies man around campus," Coulter said.

Sharper played for the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints from 1997 through the 2010 season. The five-time Pro Bowl player intercepted 63 passes in his career, tying for seventh all-time. He is tied for second all-time in interceptions returned for touchdowns with 11, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

He later worked as an analyst for NFL Network.

Sharper will get about 300 days credit for time already served in California, Cobb said.

The CNN Wire was used in this report.