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“The whole L.T. persona, to me that’s an act,” Carson said before court. “I’m here for Lawrence Taylor. I’m not here for L.T. … Once he went through some of the stuff he went through, he realized that was a hindrance to himself and his family.”

In court, Carson, sitting in the front row of the gallery, reached over a low wall into the defendant’s area and straightened Taylor’s overcoat collar.

In a related case, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed a complaint last year against a man who is accused of acting as the girl’s pimp. Court papers in that case say Taylor admitted to sex acts with the girl but said he was told the girl was 19.

Ramapo police Chief Peter Brower said after Taylor’s arrest that ignorance of a minor’s age is not a defense to third-degree rape.

Aidala had claimed that Taylor’s arrest was illegal because police did not have a warrant when they burst into his suburban hotel room in May. Prosecutors said no warrant was required and state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly rejected the claim. But he granted a pretrial hearing on whether statements Taylor made upon his arrest were admissible. Aidala said in December he was relishing the chance to cross-examine the arresting police officers.

Taylor was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. A fierce, athletic linebacker, he redefined his position and was selected to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.

In 2009, he competed in ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.” He had also been a spokesman for the NutriSystem weight-loss company, but he was dropped after his arrest.

Sentencing is March 22. That same day, state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly will determine what level of sex offender status Taylor will have. Aidala said he will suggest Level 1, which he said would mean checking in once a year with local police.

Aidala said he would seek to have Taylor’s probation transferred to Florida, where the former player now lives.