SUFFERN, N.Y. - Giants great Lawrence Taylor faces rape and prostitution charges after allegedly paying $300 to have sex with a 16-year-old runaway in a Rockland County hotel room early Thursdaymorning. The Hall of Fame linebacker was in a Ramapo Town courtroom Thursday and released on a bond after Judge Arnold Edelson set bail at $75,000. He's due back in court June 10.

Taylor, 51, was charged with third-degree rape, a Class E felony that carries a maximum sentence of 4 years in prison, along with patronizing a prostitute, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.

Third-degree rape is defined as a person 21 years or older having sex with someone younger than 17. Asked if Taylor knew the age of the victim, Ramapo chief of police Peter Brower noted that "ignorance is not an excuse to an individual's age."

Town of Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence said the girl was "delivered" to Taylor's room at a Holiday Inn by Rasheed Davis, a 36-year-old from the Bronx whom the New York Police Department arrested.

Davis "punched and kicked" the girl when she resisted going to Rockland County for the encounter with Taylor, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. After the girl and Davis returned to the Bronx, she contacted her uncle, who reported the incident to the NYPD. Officers interviewed her and alerted Ramapo police of the incident, Browne said. Officers from Ramapo and the NYPD arrested Taylor at 3:54 a.m.

At the arraignment, Edelson read from the complaint and noted Taylor admitted to detectives that he paid $300 for sex. Taylor's attorney, Arthur Aidala, however, denied that while speaking outside the Town Hall.

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"My client did not have sex with anybody," Aidala said. "No. Period. Amen. Is that enough?"

NYPD spokesman Browne said police don't know if Davis, who is on parole for a manslaughter conviction, forced the girl to have sex with other men in the past. She was reported missing in March.

Police found no evidence of drugs but did find a bottle of alcohol when they entered Taylor's room and woke him. They said he was cooperative and concerned about the victim's physical well-being.

"Mr. Taylor is denying and preparing to fight each and every one of these charges," Aidala said. "At this point, you can presume that every aspect of this case and these charges will be litigated to the fullest extent of the law."

Taylor did not enter a plea because of the limited jurisdiction of a municipal court in felony cases.

Taylor, who was in the area to speak at a business conference last night, will return to Florida, where he lives with his third wife, Lynette.

Lynette Taylor told last night that she believes her husband is the victim of a "setup." She would not expand on who she thought could be behind such a plot.

One of the greatest linebackers in NFL history and widely considered the best player in Giants history, Taylor was a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Off the field, Taylor has had well-publicized struggles with drug addiction and was convicted of possessing drug paraphernalia in 2001. Lately, though, he appeared to have straightened himself out. He has cited his interest in golf as keeping him away from drugs, has begun an acting career and appeared on "Dancing With the Stars."

Aidala noted that no drugs were found in the hotel room and no drug charges were made.

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"Lawrence has asked me to shout from the highest mountains that they have here in Rockland County that he has not touched any drugs in over a dozen years," Aidala said. "He is clean, clean, clean. That life is over. That's the old Lawrence Taylor. This is the new Lawrence Taylor."

With Bob Glauber

and Reid J. Epstein