Once a Giant, Lawrence Taylor Comes Up Stunningly Small
"A bad-ass pimp," is what law enforcement officials called Rasheed Davis, a parolee who is the most disgusting figure in this evil ordeal, but he doesn't appear to be alone.
What shall we call Taylor? He's forever a hero in the hearts of New York Giants fans, a Hall of Famer, perhaps the greatest defensive football player ever. But if what authorities allege is true, he's also a creep of the lowest kind, a 51-year-old man with children of his own who most certainly did not summon authorities when the traumatized and beaten runaway somehow ended up on his doorstep.
Everything else is he said-she said, facts that will either prove to be true or contrived when Taylor is tried of third-degree rape of a minor and soliciting prostitution. If Taylor is found guilty of the prostitution charge, he could spend up to a year in jail; the maximum sentence for third-degree rape is four years.
If ever there were a time to excuse violence, it would have been the moment when police say Taylor opened the door of Room 160 at the Suffern Holiday Inn early Thursday morning and saw that Davis, the pimp, had allegedly rearranged the face of this young girl by punching and kicking her. But we know Taylor didn't touch Davis the same way we know Taylor didn't scream for the police, because if anything close to either of those scenarios happened, authorities surely would have covered it Thursday afternoon as they spoke in great detail of the charges against both men.
Davis, a 36-year-old with a lengthy rap sheet, was arrested by the NYPD on charges of unlawful imprisonment, assault and endangering the welfare of a child. Taylor, beloved by legions of football fans despite his off-field tribulations, was released after posting $75,000 bail in a Ramapo, N.Y., courtroom, as his lawyer vehemently insisted his client was innocent of all charges and the victim of a despicable plot.
"Lawrence Taylor did not rape anybody, am I clear?" Arthur Aidala, Taylor's attorney, said outside the courthouse, adding that Taylor was "falsely accused of a felony by a total stranger." He insisted his client did not have sex in the small hours of Thursday morning "with anybody," but police say Taylor paid the girl $300 for a sexual encounter. A source told FanHouse a condom was found in Room 160, also known as the crime scene.
"We're going to fight it as hard as he fought when he was a linebacker for the New York Giants," Aidala said.
Can we put a stop to the sporting references, just for once? They're not just trite; they're repulsive considering the horrific charges.
As Aidala pleaded with the judge to release Taylor on his own recognizance, arguing he was a law-abiding citizen who has been clean for 12 years and a friend of law enforcement officials, detectives over at the 47th Precinct in the Bronx questioned Davis, the ex-con on parole. They believe he assaulted the girl -- identified in court by the initials CF -- when she initially refused to have sex with Taylor, who was considered by Davis to be "a high-roller John," a NYPD detective told FanHouse.
Around the time Taylor was being arraigned, the girl had already been treated for lacerations and bruises on her face. She also underwent a rape examination at a New York hospital, crying softly as nurses held her hand and tried to soothe her.
"Don't let that get lost in the story," said the detective who asked to remain anonymous because the investigation is ongoing. "That's somebody's daughter in that hospital room."
Taylor's attorney was quick to counter that picture by reminding the court and, later, swarms of reporters that "the new Lawrence Taylor is a caring family man." Taylor's wife, Lynette, told TMZ.com her husband is innocent, claiming the allegations are part of a "set-up."
Mark Lepselter, Taylor's agent and long-time friend, said Taylor was devastated by the charges. "He's worked very hard over the last 12 years to change perceptions about him," Lepselter told reporters.
How is it that a runaway teenager from the Bronx intersected with an NFL legend in a hotel designed for business travelers just off the New York State Thruway? Taylor lives in Florida but he also has a place in New Jersey and is a frequent visitor to the golf courses in Rockland County, a bucolic bedroom suburb north of NYC. He was in Montebello to sign autographs and shake some hands and remind adults why they couldn't look away for so many Sundays in the late 1980s, when Taylor's bone-crunching hits and tackles personified the Giants.
The girl was still 15 when she got into a fight with her family in March, ran away from home, was reported missing, stayed with a friend for a few nights and then somehow became mixed up with Davis, the man Ramapo Town Supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence labeled "a pimp."
"She met Davis at a bus stop in the Bronx," NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said. He described it as the typical runaway tale: girl tells sleazy man she has no place to stay, predator provides one, then forces her to perform sexual favors for other men in exchange for his largesse.
Taylor has done horrendous things to himself, been in all sorts of trouble because of his love of cocaine, but he's never been known to be violent off the field. His second act in life has been mostly charmed: lots of golf and personal appearances, a twirl on "Dancing With The Stars," a clean bill of health. He was arrested for leaving the scene of a car accident in November, but beyond that his admitted out-of-control cocaine problem has long seemed to be a demon of the past.
And yet, police insist Taylor allowed the battered teen into his hotel room and engaged in sexual activity with her. The law says it doesn't matter if she consented, or if Taylor knew she was underage or not. "Ignorance is not an excuse to an individual's age," Ramapo Police Chief Peter Brower said.
According to authorities, after the girl's sexual encounter with Taylor Davis forced her back into the car and drove to the Bronx. At some point, the girl managed to text her uncle, who for days had been frantically looking for her, according to the Bronx detective. The uncle contacted the NYPD, who met the car in the Bronx while police in Ramapo went to the Holiday Inn. They used a hotel-provided key to enter the room shortly before 4 a.m., a sleepy Taylor gave his name and other particulars and was "very cooperative," Brower said. There were no signs of drugs, police said, but there was a bottle of alcohol. Taylor was not intoxicated, Brower added.
"He was very concerned about injuries to the victim," Brower said.
In an afternoon of revolving press conferences, law enforcement officials went out of their way to make it clear Taylor did not assault the girl, that her injuries occurred before she reached Room 160 of the Holiday Inn. They also called her "a traumatized victim" and said Davis held her against her will.
Was it terrible happenstance that Taylor, on this night of all nights, was staying at the hotel? Did Davis recognize him and decide to stage another con, a set-up that would end with Taylor being falsely accused of rape? Or did Taylor arrange the rendezvous, and if he did, how did he mange to find Davis? Presumably Dial-A-Pimp is not part of the hotel's concierge service. DNA evidence and simple fingerprints should soon prove if Taylor and the girl were in the same room.
"That's part of the investigation," the Bronx detective said, "but we believe the victim entered Mr. Taylor's room already injured and no, he did not report her injuries."
If Taylor had been discovered face-first in a vat of blow, those of us who know him would sigh and say it's sad but not exactly surprising. If he were arrested for filing false tax returns, or shirking his alimony payments, we'd barely shrug. He's an addict, always will be, and as he wrote in the third paragraph of his autobiography, "addicts don't care if they have to venture into dangerous hellholes like The Hill if there's a pot of cocaine at the end of the rainbow."
The Hill is, in Taylor's words, "a nasty-ass place" in Spring Valley, N.Y., where he once had a harrowing experience that nearly ended with him getting car-jacked, robbed and possibly killed, all in the pursuit of crack. That was a lifetime ago, Taylor told a group of us at a charity event in Manhattan last year. He's been sober "since 1998," he said proudly, and the football fans who idolize him and the folks who admire him for turning around his life all congratulated him, because this is how his redemptive story was meant to end.
Now there's Room 160, a crime scene, and an underage, battered girl, an alleged pimp and charges of rape. We probably shouldn't be shocked that LT's in trouble again. It's the trouble he's in that is shocking.