Legendary NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor was charged Thursday with raping a 16-year-old runaway in an upstate New York hotel room after she was transported there, beaten and bruised, against her will by a pimp, police said.
Authorities said the 51-year-old former New York Giant, widely regarded as one of the greatest players in NFL history, did not beat the victim but did pay $300 to have sex with her.
The accused pimp, Rasheed Davis, 36, was arrested on charges of unlawful imprisonment, assault and endangering the welfare of a child. It is unclear how Davis knew the girl, who was reported missing in March by her family.
Taylor, who denies the accusations, was arraigned on charges of third-degree rape and patronizing a prostitute Thursday afternoon in Rockland County. Bail for was set at $75,000 as Taylor stood handcuffed, wearing all black with a grimace on his face. He faces up to four years in prison is convicted.
"Lawrence Taylor did not rape anybody, am I clear?" his attorney, Arthur Aidala said after the arraignment. "My client did not have sex with anybody, period."
"I'm not that important," Taylor told a crowd of reporters and photographers after he was released on bail, according to the Associated Press.
Aidala portrayed the ex-pro bowler as a family man who had long ago said goodbye to the days of drug use that dogged him after his retirement.
Aidala said Taylor was "devastated" by the allegations. "Today was a very difficult day for Mr. Taylor," the lawyer said.
Both the New York City Police Department and cops in Suffern, N.Y. were involved in the investigation of the incident that began in the Bronx, where the victim had been staying with Davis for a few weeks, cops said.
According to police, the teenager was beaten by Davis before she was driven north to a Holiday Inn in Suffern allegedly to have sex with Taylor.
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.
At the hotel, Taylor paid the girl $300 for sex, but she refused and the hulking ex-linebacker allegedly sexually assaulted her.
Ramapo Chief of Police Peter of Brower would not comment on whether Taylor knew how young she was but said "ignorance is not an excuse to an individual's age."
On the way back to the Bronx, the alleged victim sent a text message to her uncle explaining what happened and the uncle contacted the NYPD. Cops responded and arrested Davis.
At about 4 a.m., Ramapo police arrested Taylor at the hotel where he was cooperative and "very concerned" about being accused of causing an injury to the victim, Brower said. Alcohol was found in the room but Taylor did not show any signs of being drunk, Brower said.
Taylor had a brilliant, but turbulent 13-year career, all with the Giants. He played on two Super Bowl championship teams, was a 10-time All-Pro and was named the league's Most Valuable Player in 1986, a rare feat for a defender. But he also battled drugs and alcohol throughout his career. He admitted using cocaine and was suspended multiple times. He once famously claimed to have beaten his addiction to the drug by playing golf, and refused to go to rehab.
After Taylor retired, he was jailed multiple times on drug charges, including a 1996 arrest in South Carolina for attempted possession of crack cocaine. Taylor has claimed to have been clean since 1998 and participated on television's "Dancing with the Stars" last year.
After Thursday's incident, Aidala insisted his client's days of getting high were behind him.
"Lawrence Taylor has been stone cold sober for 12 years," the attorney said. "The new L.T. is a caring family man...he's clean, clean, clean. That life is over. All he wants to do is get back to Florida" to be with his family.
His last brush with the law came in November, when he was arrested in Miami for allegedly leaving the scene of an accident.