Ravens' Darren Sanders charged

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens' security director won't accompany the team to its playoff game in Pittsburgh after he was charged with a sex violation.

Darren Sanders, 48, was charged Tuesday with a fourth-degree sexual offense, according to online court records for Baltimore City District Court.

The records tied the charge to a Dec. 14 incident but do not say what specifically happened.

Sanders' lawyers said he denies the allegations.

A hearing is set for Feb. 9.

"We are investigating this case thoroughly," Ravens senior vice president Kevin Byrne said Wednesday.

Byrne said Sanders was not at work Wednesday and would not join the team when it travels to its wild-card game against the Steelers on Saturday night.

The charge against Sanders lists his address as that of the Ravens' team headquarters in Owings Mills, Maryland. Normally, defendants in a criminal case are required to list a home address.

A spokesman for the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office on Wednesday declined to discuss the basis for the charge, saying the office does not comment on active cases.

In Maryland, a fourth-degree sex offense is the lowest level of such a charge. It's punishable by a maximum one year in jail and a fine of $1,000.

A Baltimore police spokesman did not immediately respond to multiple requests about the case Wednesday.

But Sanders' lawyers said he did nothing wrong.

"He is innocent and looks forward to his day in court," the firm of Alperstein & Diener said in a statement.

"Mr. Sanders has worked his entire career to keep others safe as a police officer and as a detective with the Baltimore City Police Department and currently as the senior security director for the Baltimore Ravens," the statement said. "He is a man who possesses tremendous integrity, and he has worked to ensure public safety by protecting the health, welfare and security of the community."

News of the summons was first reported by the Baltimore Sun.

Sanders' first year as a full-time employee with the Ravens was 2004.

Earlier this year, Sanders became swept up in the controversy over whether the Ravens were able to obtain security camera footage showing Ray Rice punching his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an elevator at a New Jersey casino. Sanders said he had asked Atlantic City, New Jersey, police and the Revel Casino Hotel for surveillance video -- shot from inside the elevator where Rice's punch knocked Palmer unconscious -- but the officer instead described in detail to Sanders what he was seeing.

Sanders then relayed the damning video's play-by-play to team executives in Baltimore, starting a seven-month odyssey that blew up into one of the NFL's biggest crises in its 94-year history. Whether Sanders spoke directly with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti or someone else who relayed the information he had obtained Feb. 15 remains unclear.

Rice later was let go by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL after the video was released showing the running back striking Palmer. He since has been reinstated by the league.

In 2004, Sanders was charged with bringing a concealed pistol into an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament game in Greensboro, North Carolina, where he was shot in the hip when the gun accidentally fired. Sanders, identified in archived accounts of the incident as an off-duty Baltimore police detective, was working at the game as a bodyguard for Bisciotti.

It's unclear whether Sanders was convicted of the charge against him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.