Prosecutors dropped all 25 felony charges and other sex offenses against suspended Raiders defensive tackle Darrell Russell and two of his friends on Sept. 12, 2002, according to published reports.
Alameda County District Attorney Kevin Murphy told reporters outside court he didn't have enough evidence to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt that the three men raped a 28-year-old Sunnyvale, Calif. woman.
Alameda Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Allen granted Murphy's request for dismissal during a brief court hearing.
Russell, 26, had been charged with drugging the woman with the "date-rape-drug" GHB at a San Francisco nightclub in January, and then recording her alleged rape by Na'eem Perry, 25, of Berkeley and Ali Hayes, 27, of Oakland. The alleged assault took place at the Alameda, Calif. home of one of Russell's teammates on Jan. 31, 2002.
Russell, serving a one-year suspension for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy, was charged as an accomplice. Under California law, he could have been found guilty of crimes committed by either of his two friends if he did not intervene.
The woman testified at a preliminary hearing in June that she has a history of heavy drinking and having sex with multipile partners. All three men told authorities the sex was consensual.
On the 21-minute videotape, shown in court during the preliminary hearing, the camera focused on the woman and Russell's two friends in a darkened bedroom. Russell reportedly never appeared on the videotape.
Russell's attorney, Cristina Arguedas, told reporters she believed the videotape was critical in the prosecution's decision to dismiss the case. "The videotape shows consensual sex with willing and able participants," she said.
Murphy told reporters there was no new evidence to support the defendants. He also mentioned a lab analysis that found no traces of GHB in the woman's system following the Jan. 31 incident. "This was a very complex situation," Murphy said. "There was no one piece of evidence or development that caused us to make this decision. It was an accumulation of events."
The woman, who has appeared nude in Playboy magazine, reportedly also had contacted a lawyer about possibly suing Russell.
Russell, speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, said: "I knew I was innocent, but that doesn't mean you're going to get off scot-free. I'm a very trusting person and I just realized you can't trust everybody People have no problems making up a bunch of lies so they can make their pockets as big as mine."
Contra Costa Times, The Mercury News
Russell Chared With DUI
Russell, 26, was stopped on U.S. Highway 50 shortly before 6 a.m. traveling 60 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone nears Mills Park, according to published reports. The two-time Pro Bowl lineman also failed a field sobriety test. Carson City (Nev.) sheriff's officials said Russell posted $1,250 bail and was released.
After making bail, Russell returned to the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Carson City, where he spent about an hour with one of the women, brothel owner Dennis Hof told reporters. A court date was set for Sept. 19.
Earlier this year, Russell was charged in Alameda County (Calif.) with 25 counts of rape and sexual assault felonies in connection with a videotaped alleged assault on a 28-year-old woman. Russell, who is free on $1.2 million bail, and two other defendants are waiting to find out if the case will go to trial.
More Trouble For Russell
Russell, 26, was charged with 25 felonies as an accomplice. He has been free since posting bail Feb. 7, 2002. Na'eem Rashad Perry, 25, of Berkeley and Ali Martine Hayes, 27, of Oakland also were charged in connection with the alleged assault.
Russell and his co-defendants returned to Alameda County Superior Court in Alameda, Calif. on June 10, 2002 for a preliminary hearing. Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Allen delayed deciding if there is enough evidence for a trial.
Prosecutors allege that Russell (right) ran the video camera that taped a Sunnyvale (Calif.) woman being raped by his friends. The 21-minute video was shown at a preliminary hearing June 14, 2002. The tape reportedly shows Perry and Hayes having intercourse with the woman, and Russell never appears in the video. Under California law, Russell could be found guilty of crimes committed by either of his friends charged in the incident because he allegedly did not intervene.
Prosecutors said the victim was a casual girlfriend of Russell. According to information in police reports, the woman told investigators that Russell mixed her a drink at a San Francisco bar and after consuming half the drink, she doesn't remember anything until waking up the next morning at an Alameda home rented by Raiders defensive back Eric Johnson. Johnson isn't considered a suspect in the alleged assault.
Hayes and Perry reportedly were on felony probabtion for prior drug convictions when they were arrested by Alameda police early Feb. 1, 2002. Hayes and Perry can't post their $1.2 million bail each because they violated the terms of their probabtion.
Russell is serving a one-year suspension by the NFL for reportedly testing positive for the drug Ecstasy, his third violation of the league's substance-abuse policy. According to league policy, Russell can't have any contact with the Raiders until next January.
"Most of all I am concerned about Darrell and his future," Raiders coach Jon Gruden told reporters after the announcement of Russell's suspension. "It's very disappointing and I'm very concerned for him."
Russell's suspension is effective immediately, which means he'll miss Oakland's regular-season finale against the New York Jets on Jan. 6 and the postseason. Russell, 25, will be eligible to be reinstated by NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue no sooner than Jan. 2, 2003.
During his suspension, the five-year veteran isn't allowed to have any contact with the Raiders organization and must comply with the guidelines of the NFL's substance-abuse program.
Russell's latest transgression was first reported by CBS-TV on Dec. 2, and he reportedly attended an appeals hearing in New York on Dec. 7.
Russell (right) received a year's suspension because this is his third violation in the league's substance-abuse program. The defensive tackle served a four-game suspension, announced on Aug. 7, to begin the 2001 season for what Russell, agent Leigh Steinberg and the Raiders said was a missed test. Steinberg told reporters on Aug. 7 that Russell's initial placement in the program was from inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke.
"Darrell Russell's got a problem that's got to be dealt with," Gruden said. "I just hope he can deal with it. But the bottom line, this is devastating for a young guy at the top of his profession to have to go through this."
Said Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown: "Our concern now is not for the Raiders or Darrell's football career, but for Darrell's life because this can really shock your system. You either come back a drug addict or you come back clean and sober and ready to go do your thing and understanding that the lifestyle that you have led, you can't lead anymore."
That means it all depends on people whether to stay sober after going through residential rehab programs or relapse as soon as they get out of rehab.
After his initial suspension Russell returned to the Raiders on Oct. 8. He played in the team's fifth game but didn't start until Week 10 against San Diego. He contributed sacks in each of Oakland's last two games and has 2.5 this season.
The NFL does not disclose details of substance-abuse violations. The league's policy covers a wide range of issues, including the illegal use of drugs and alcohol abuse, prescriptions and over-the counter drugs. The league began testing this season for Ecstasy, a mood-altering drug popular with partygoers.
Russell will remain in Stage Three (the highest classification) of the league's drug policy for the rest of his NFL career. He would be subjected to unannounced testing no fewer than twice and no more than 10 times per month if he resumes his playing career.
The 6-foot-5, 325-pound defensive tackle might have played his final game for the Raiders. He is scheduled to earn $9 million next season. According to published reports, the Raiders will not be responsible for paying his base salary or counting it against their salary cap other than the portion of Russell's signing bonus pertaining to 2002. There is nothing in the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players union that would prohibit the Raiders from releasing him at any time.
Russell, the second overall choice in the 1997 NFL draft, slumped badly last season with only three sacks. He combined for 19 � sacks the previous two seasons when he was named to the Pro Bowl in 1998 and 1999.
Russell Breaks Silence
Speaking on Fox Sports Net's "The Last Word With Jim Rome" on Jan. 14, Russell confirmed he tested positive for the drug ecstasy. It was his first comments to the media since being suspended for the second time in less than five months.
Russell, 25, said he didn't do anything to warrant his latest suspension. He also maintained his innocence on his first two violations.
"I went to a club with a couple of friends, basically someone spiked my drink," Russell said. "When I appealed it (Dec. 7), I had proof and everything that showed this wasn't something I took outright."
Russell received his first suspension Aug. 7 for his second violation. The league said the defensive tackle wasn't home during a specified time when a a league representative showed up at his Oakland residence to administer a drug test. Failure to take a test constitutes a positive test, according to NFL policy.
Russell told Rome he didn't receive word that the league wanted him to submit to a test. "After they showed up that time," Russell said, "I got a message late that night that they were going to come the next day. I was there to take the test. I didn't know about the day before until I got a letter in the mail."
During a 20-minute interview, Russell blamed his first violation 2 1/2 years ago on inhaling second-hand marijuana smoke. He also denied using drugs or having a drug problem.
"Is anyone going to believe me? No. ... " Russell told Rome. "I don't really care if anyone believes me because I know the truth. I'm not going to sit here and go around apologizing and act like I made some big mistake. I didn't make a mistake."