- Associated Press - Friday, January 14, 2011

NEW CITY, N.Y. (AP) — Former NFL star Lawrence Taylor admitted in court to paying a 16-year-old runaway for sex as he pleaded guilty to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute.

The 51-year-old ex-linebacker, who led the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991, will serve six years’ probation and must register as a sex offender.

“She told me she was 19,” Taylor, standing with his hands clasped behind him, said Thursday in court as he admitted having intercourse with the prostitute, who turned out to be a Bronx runaway. Taylor said he now knows the girl was 16 and legally incapable of consent.

He said he paid her $300.

Harry Carson, a former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, was in the courtroom and gave Taylor a supportive handshake when he arrived.

Prosecutor Patricia Gunning said the plea deal was acceptable in part because Taylor had assisted in investigations into human trafficking since he was charged. Another prosecutor, Arthur Ferraro, said outside court that Taylor “was of assistance in the field of human trafficking in several jurisdictions and with federal authorities.”

Defense attorney Arthur Aidala said that “obviously” included a federal case against the man charged with being the 16-year-old’s pimp.

Aidala said Taylor decided the plea bargain was in everyone’s best interest.

“He could have taken a much more aggressive road, but he decided it was in the best interest of he and his family and the young woman to put this behind him,” Aidala said. “Mr. Taylor’s not proud of what happened. … He patronized a prostitute and that prostitute happened to be under the age of 17.”

Taylor had resisted a plea deal for months after pleading not guilty to third-degree rape, patronizing a prostitute, sexual abuse and endangering a child.

Prosecutors said in December that Taylor had been offered a six-month jail term and 10 years’ probation in exchange for pleading guilty to a felony. Aidala had called that offer unacceptable but said he would listen to any other offers.

Two members of the Giants’ 1991 Super Bowl team are behind bars. Mark Ingram Sr., a star receiver, is spending nearly 10 years in federal prison for money laundering, bank fraud and bail jumping. And the electrifying kick returner Dave Meggett was sentenced last year to 30 years for criminal sexual conduct and burglary.

Taylor’s trial would likely have started within a few weeks.

He was arrested May 6 after the underage girl’s uncle contacted New York City police. Officers from Ramapo woke him at a Holiday Inn in Montebello.

Police said he was cooperative and no drugs were found in the room, although a bottle of alcohol was. Taylor has a history of drug offenses but has been to rehab and his lawyer says he has been sober for years.

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