Pro football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor was arraigned in New York state Thursday on rape and prostitution charges in connection with the sexual assault of a 16-year-old runaway who police said was brought to his hotel room against her will.
Taylor, 51, was arrested at a Holiday Inn in Suffern, a village in the Town of Ramapo, N.Y., close to the New Jersey border and about 50 kilometres northwest of New York City.
The former New York Giants linebacker faces a charge of third-degree rape, which can be laid in New York state when the victim is under the age of 17 and either does not give consent or is incapable of giving consent to sex.
Taylor was also charged with patronizing a prostitute, with bail set at $75,000 US. He was ordered to return to court on June 10.
Taylor's lawyer, Arthur Aidala, said the player denies the charges.
Ramapo police Chief Peter Brower said before the arraignment that Taylor was co-operative when police woke him up around 4 a.m.
Brower would not comment on whether Taylor knew the girl's age but added, "Ignorance is not an excuse to an individual's age."
Rasheed Davis, a 36-year-old parolee, was arrested in the case on charges of unlawful imprisonment, assault and endangering the welfare of a child.
Police said the girl was reported missing by her family in March and had been staying with Davis in the Bronx for a few weeks. Early Thursday morning, he beat her up, drove her to the hotel and told her she had to have sex with Taylor, police allege.
Davis "struck the young girl with his fist, kicked her and brought her to the Holiday Inn against her will," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said.
Taylor paid her $300, which she gave to Davis, police said. On the way back from Suffern, the girl sent text messages to her uncle spelling out what had happened, and he reported the incident to the NYPD.
Davis was sentenced in April 1994 to eight to 25 years in prison for first-degree manslaughter. He was paroled in March 2008.
Struggles with substance abuse
Taylor, a former New York Giants linebacker, is considered one of the greatest football players of all time but has battled substance abuse problems and been arrested several times since his playing days.
He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1999 after a career that included two Super Bowls, three defensive most valuable player awards and 142 sacks.
He appeared in the films Shaft and Any Given Sunday and was a contestant last year on Dancing With the Stars. Most recently, he talked about his personal battles on an episode of the reality TV show Intervention.
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. More recently, he was arrested last November in Miami after leaving the scene of an automobile accident.
Taylor admitted to frequently hiring prostitutes in his 2003 book, LT: Over the Edge, co-authored by Steve Serby.
He is due in court again on the latest charges on June 10.