NEW CITY, N.Y. - Former Giants linebacker and Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor pleaded not guilty Tuesday in Rockland County Court to charges that he solicited and had sex with an underage prostitute in May.
Taylor, dressed in a black crew-neck shirt, an olive suit jacket and oversized black slacks, appeared in good spirits and joked with friends before the arraignment. He is charged with third-degree rape, performing a criminal sexual act, two counts of sexual abuse, endangering the welfare of a child, and patronizing a prostitute. If convicted, Taylor faces up to four years in prison.
He was accompanied by a handful of friends, and his wife, Lynette, who remained stoic throughout the proceedings.
Prosecutors allege that Taylor solicited the girl, who was then a week shy of her 17th birthday, and paid her $300 for sex, including oral sex, at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Suffern. Taylor, 51, admitted to paying the girl $300 in a federal criminal complaint dated May 6, but, according to his attorney, Arthur Aidala, he now maintains that "this person [the girl] is an absolute stranger to him."
Prosecutors renewed an order of protection against Taylor, barring him from going anywhere near the girl's home, school, or place of business until at least Jan. 13.
During a bond hearing in early May, Aidala said that Taylor never had sex with the girl after her alleged pimp, identified as Rasheed Davis, of the Bronx, brought her to the hotel. Federal court documents say that Davis may have allegedly told the girl to tell Taylor she was 19.
Taylor is due back in court on Aug. 24 and is free on $75,000 bail.
"Mr. Taylor had the opportunity to stand before a judge and the public and say not guilty," Aidala said in front of the courthouse after the arraignment. The Manhattan-based lawyer later added, "He's doing the best he can under the circumstances. Any human being tried in the criminal justice system is under extreme pressure."
While entering the courthouse, Taylor told a reporter who asked if he was guilty to "grow up." After the hearing, he said he felt "good" about how the day went, but remained reticent as his agent, Mark Lepselter, advised him not to speak.
Despite the easy smiles during the court appearance, Lepselter said that Taylor was having a difficult time.
"I haven't seen him like this," Lepselter said outside the courthouse. "Mentally, he's trying to get through it. Nobody wants criminal charges over their heads."