Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Darrell Russell got a reprieve from the legal system Thursday. Prosecutors said the case was dropped against him because they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt he videotaped a woman being raped by two of his friends.
Russell, who was selected as the third overall pick in the 1997 draft by the Raiders, also had been charged with drugging the 28-year-old woman with GHB, known as the "date-rape drug," at a San Francisco night club in January. Russell was also accused of holding a video camera and not intervening while his friends raped the woman.
The two-time Pro Bowler was charged with 25 felonies as an accomplice in the alleged attack Jan. 31 at the home of current Raider safety Eric Johnson. Police discovered videotape during the search of the home.
Prosecutors also suggested they did not drop the charges because they believed Russell was innocent. Instead, they dropped the charges but because they believe a jury would not convict him. Prosecutors also dropped charges against Russell's friends -- Na'eem Perry, 25, and Ali Hayes, 27.
Russell, however, contended outside the court that he was innocent. Russell, who recorded 28 1/2 sacks in five seasons with the Raiders, was suspended last summer for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy for the second time. The Raiders and Russell, however, are prohibited by league rules of having contact with one another during the suspension.
The 21-minute videotape was shown in court during the preliminary hearing, the camera focused on the woman and Russell's two friends in a darkened bedroom strewn with debris.
The woman testified during the preliminary hearing that she was feeling fine that night until Russell mixed a cocktail -- vodka, with orange and cranberry juices -- at the nightclub. She said soon after she blacked out and remembered little, except visions of "the red light, the camera, and somebody on top of me."
In an interview taped Feb. 1, Russell told police the woman could have been drugged, but he added he couldn't envision how someone having had a chance to spike her drink. He said the woman consented verbally to group sex twice -- once in the back seat of his vehicle during the ride back to Alameda, and again before Russell invited his two friends.