I will not pretend to know if Darren Sharper raped as many as nine women in five states, as charged. But I do know that his Los Angeles-based attorney says the former NFL star is innocent.
And I do know, from personal experience, that his attorney is a ruthless liar.
Keep my narrative in mind as a jurisprudence-weary sports world examines the latest legal entanglement involving a high-profile football name. Sharper, a five-time All-Pro who is accused of drugging women in most of the alleged rapes, is represented by Leonard Levine. He is best known as a criminal defense attorney, recalling his successful 2006 defense of Mark Sanchez when the current New York Jets quarterback was accused of sexual assault as a USC student-athlete. But curiously enough, in August 2010, Levine chose to reverse roles and represent a troubled plantiff who’d lost her full-time job, had little money to her name and chose to tell lies and press charges against an innocent man who’d simply tried to help her.
First, please realize I’m living a good life in southern California, by the beach, blessed with wonderful companions and friends. My multi-media sports site, featuring a three-hour national radio show streamed Monday through Friday, has been a glorious ride, allowing me to speak and write freely and interview guests in a professional forum without ESPN-like institutional filters. I harbor no bitterness about a grossly unfair episode involving a regrettable association, which was blown up into a debacle by sleazy media sites and even reputable newspapers that never sought my side and didn’t try hard to seek the truth. I was accused of crimes I did not commit — by a person who made several unsuccessful attempts to seek a large financial payoff, including a civil case that was quickly dropped — and my life today is as clean and upstanding as it always was. My two daughters are well. I am well.
I write this today from the viewpoint of a commentator who will be covering the legal issues of Sharper, suspected of two rapes in Los Angeles, two rapes in New Orleans, two rapes in Las Vegas, two rapes in Arizona and one rape in Miami Beach. As a commentator, I’m left to ask if Levine will lie publicly about the alleged rape victims as he lied publicly about me, and how those lies might impact the Sharper case. Lawyers lie — it’s a redundancy — but Levine recklessly disregarded the truth and severely damaged my reputation in a retaliatory Los Angeles Times story. Because I didn’t want my family exposed to further one-sided media coverage and rampant lies being told by the plaintiff, I chose not to pursue this winnable case in a very expensive trial. By pleading no contest to a low-level misdemeanor, I would proceed with my life and remove an assortment of money-grubbers and headline-seekers from my daily existence. With the drama over, my attorney issued a statement to the media. Levine, who did not like my Orange County-based attorney and squabbled with him during the process, was incensed by the statement.
So, to retaliate, he invented a sick lie. He told the Times that I’d punched his client in the face. I haven’t punched anyone in my life, much less a woman in the face. He didn’t tell the Times that she was a heavy drinker, didn’t tell the Times that she was the one abusing me, didn’t tell the Times she had fallen twice on a drunken boat excursion off Marina del Rey — with several witnesses around — and sustained bruises that Levine conveniently blamed on me. No, Levine wanted to get back at my attorney. So he fabricated a horrible image of me for public consumption.
I thought about suing Levine. Instead, wanting to be rid of the sleaze element, I moved on. Unfortunately, Levine and his client did not move on. As I’ve detailed in media interviews and written in my Amazon e-book, “The System,” she was told by Levine to keep a log on me, which gave her license to look for me in the seaside area in which she and I both lived. I made the mistake of resuming visits to my favorite restaurants and haunts in Venice, where I knew and socialized with familiar faces during a tough time, but early in the process, she inevitably would appear in those establishments long after I’d arrived. My attorney wrote a letter to Levine and copied it to the Los Angeles city attorney’s office — calmly, I was instructed by that office to simply pay the bill and leave if I was with a friend or dinner companion — but Levine and his client were determined and marched on. It reached the point where an establishment owner ejected her one night because he knew what she was up to — she twice had called the police and tried to have me arrested for stalking, when all I was doing was enjoying the night with a friend, minding my business.
Next thing I knew, my attorney was on the phone, saying Levine wanted me busted on a probation violation. In truth, Levine’s client should have been arrested for stalking. What I should have done was move to Bora Bora, but I stayed in L.A. and laid low. Months later, I paid a routine return trip to see some pals at my favorite Venice place. I was there 90 minutes or so when I looked up and saw her, a few feet away, staring at me with glazed eyes. Now quite nervous about her state of mind, I made my way out of the crowded room, left briskly out the front door and walked toward my residence a few blocks away. From a distance, she shouted my name. A police car then pulled up.
I was arrested.
All part of Leonard Levine’s end game.
“Lenny is all about the money,” said one of my attorney’s private investigators, who had worked for Levine at some point.
I am relieved to report that Levine and his client have left me alone for a couple of years now. This whole thing was shut and put to bed a long time ago, and it’s now a mere blip beyond a few haters in a cannibalistic media business who have no idea what happened and never bothered to investigate. Levine used the L.A. Times — owned by the Tribune Co., as in Chicago Tribune, my nemesis for 17 years as a rival Sun-Times columnist — as his vehicle to paint a wholly, absurdly inaccurate picture of me. What I’ve heard from most people since then are comments such as, “None of what I was reading about you sounded anything like you.”
It wasn’t me. Levine and his client made up the character.
In the coming weeks and months, you’re going to read quotes from Levine defending Sharper. This is what he told a judge last week:
“All of these were consensual contact between Mr. Sharper and women who wanted to be in his company, who voluntarily ingested alcohol and drugs in many cases.”
All nine cases were consensual. That’s what Levine is saying.
And this is what he said when agreeing to a judge’s edict that Sharper not go to bars or clubs: “If he goes to a bar and meets women, he’s putting himself in a position of being accused of misconduct whether it’s true or not.”
Levine would know. He used that strategy against me.
May the better lying lawyer win. Such is the American legal system, 2014.