Lawrence Taylor's Risky Defense: Never Heard of the Girl
We'll skip the preliminaries and assume you know by now that Lawrence Taylor was arrested at a Holiday Inn about 25 miles north of NYC around 4:00 a.m. this morning, and was arraigned this afternoon in Ramapo, New York, on charges of third-degree rape (of an underage girl) and third-degree patronizing a prostitute.
When the story broke, the girl was identified as a runaway from the Bronx who was 15 years old and Taylor was alleged to have struck her in the face. It appears we can now dispense with both of those points: Reports now indicate she is 16 (but nonetheless underage) and she is not alleging that Taylor hit her (apparently the NYPD is in agreement). It does appear that she was struck by someone, most likely her pimp, Rasheed Davis. After the alleged encounter with Taylor, the girl texted her uncle as to what had happened, and New York's finest were waiting for Davis and the girl when he dropped her off.
It was made clear during the arraignment that it is irrelevant as to whether or nor whatever sex occurred was consensual. The girl is underage and therefore the charge against Taylor is third-degree rape -- "statutory." LT's attorney, Arthur Aidala, was outraged at the prosecution's request for a bail of $100,000, saying "Where is he going to go?" But, as the prosecution pointed out, Taylor had a violation of bail 12 years ago; bail was set at $75,000.
But here's the big point: With the possibility of a consensual sex plea out the window, Taylor and his attorney, Aidala, have rolled the dice. Taylor not only denies having sex with the girl, he denies ever having seen her at all. This was revealed in a response to the prosecution's request for a restraining order against Taylor: "How can my client avoid contact with her when he doesn't know who she is? Suppose they get on a plane together? Is he in violation of the order?" (The judge hedged but sided with the people on this one, and the protection order remains in place.)
It seems that a medical exam and DNA testing of the victim will soon reveal who is lying, but if it's Taylor, his denial that he ever saw her could carry the same legal weight for a grand jury that it had at his arraignment.
An extra consideration: ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack suggests that Taylor's previous offenses will have little impact on his sentence should he prove to be guilty as charged. There is no word as to whether or not if by "offenses," Cossack was including Taylor's appearance on Dancing With The Stars last spring (he and his partner placed seventh).
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.