SUFFERN, N.Y. — Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor was charged Thursday with rape for having sex with a 16-year-old runaway forced into prostitution by a man who had beaten her up, police said.
Taylor, a 51-year-old former New York Giants star who has faced drug and tax evasion charges in the past, paid the girl US$300 for sex in a Holiday Inn, where he was arrested early Thursday, said Christopher St. Lawrence, supervisor of the town of Ramapo.
The man who’d beaten the girl drove her to Taylor’s suburban hotel room while she texted her uncle for help, police said.
Ramapo Chief of Police Peter Brower said Taylor was co-operative when police woke him up around 4 a.m. Taylor was arraigned Thursday on charges of third-degree rape and patronizing a prostitute.
“I’m not that important,” Taylor told a scrum of media after being released on $75,000 bail.
His lawyer, Arthur Aidala, said Taylor is a “loving family man” who did not have sex with the teenager.
“My client did not have sex with anybody,” Aidala said. “Lawrence Taylor did not rape anybody.”
Brower would not comment on whether Taylor knew the girl’s age; third-degree rape is a charge levied when the victim is under the age of consent, which is 17 in New York.
“Ignorance is not an excuse to an individual’s age,” Brower said.
Police said the girl was reported missing by her family in March and had been staying with a 36-year-old parolee, Rasheed Davis, in the Bronx. The two met a few weeks ago at a Bronx bus stop, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
“He chats her up. She explains she doesn’t have a place to stay. He provides one,” Browne said.
Davis then forced her to perform sexual favours for others, authorities said.
Early Thursday morning, Davis punched and kicked her, drove her to the hotel against her will and told her she had to have sex with Taylor, police said. When she refused, Davis handed her over to Taylor, who sexually assaulted her and paid her $300, police said, adding she gave the money to Davis.
On the way to Suffern, the girl sent text messages to her uncle spelling out what was happening, Browne said. The uncle then went to the NYPD.
Davis was arrested on charges of unlawful imprisonment, assault and endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced in April 1994 to eight to 25 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter. He was paroled in March 2008.
There was no phone number listed at the address provided by police for Davis and it wasn’t clear if he had a lawyer. His relationship with the girl was unclear.
The Bronx district attorney’s office refused to comment.
Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999 and competed in ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” last year. He had a highly publicized struggle with drug addiction and has had multiple legal run-ins since retiring from football.
Police said no drugs were found in Taylor’s hotel room on Thursday, but a bottle of alcohol was.
A quick, fierce and athletic linebacker who redefined his position, Taylor anchored the Giants’ defence and led New York to Super Bowls titles in 1987 and 1991. He was selected to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
A 10-time Pro Bowler, he was the NFL Most Valuable Player in 1986 and the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1981, 1982 and 1986. He recorded 132 1/2 sacks, which doesn’t included his nine sacks in 1981 when the statistic wasn’t official.
In 2001, Taylor was convicted of possessing drug paraphernalia in New Jersey. The conviction stemmed from the September 1998 discovery in a hotel room of a butane torch and other materials commonly used to smoke crack.
In 1996 and 1997, he was arrested in South Carolina and Florida on drug charges. In those cases, he either admitted his guilt or agreed to enter a pretrial intervention program.
In 2000, he drew five years of federal probation for filing false tax returns and for tax evasion.
Taylor is due in court again on the latest charges on June 10.