Taylor charged with rape, solicitation

Updated: May 7, 2010, 2:54 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

SUFFERN, N.Y. -- Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor was charged Thursday with raping a 16-year-old runaway who police said was forced into prostitution by a man who had beaten her up.

Taylor, a 51-year-old former New York Giants star who has faced drug and tax evasion charges in the past, paid the girl $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, police said.

Ramapo Chief of Police Peter Brower said Taylor was cooperative 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 attorney, 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, New York Police Department 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 favors 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, they said. Taylor paid her $300, which she gave to Davis, police said.

Taylor used a middle man to arrange the liaison with the girl, Browne said.

At some point, the girl sent text messages to her uncle spelling out what was happening. The uncle then went to the NYPD, Browne said.

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 an attorney. His relationship with the girl was unclear.

The Bronx district attorney's office refused to comment.

Taylor was inducted into the 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.

On Thursday evening, Nutrisystem ended its endorsement deal with Taylor. The Pennsylvania-based company sent an e-mail statement during Taylor's court appearance saying it is "shocked and saddened" by the allegations against him.

At the Metamorphecise Spa in Pembroke Pines, Fla., where Taylor works out and did some of his training for his stint on the dance competition show, much of the talk Thursday was about the charges and how most people simply couldn't believe the local resident was guilty.

"He's a regular guy, a good guy who just goes about his business," said Steffen Grover, who said he'd spoken to Taylor once or twice. "I think he just wants to be like everyone else."

Police said no drugs were found in Taylor's hotel room on Thursday but there was a bottle of alcohol.

A quick, fierce and athletic linebacker who redefined his position, Taylor anchored the Giants' defense and led them 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 sacks, which doesn't included his 9 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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