LAWRENCE TAYLOR IN BIG, BIG TROUBLE

                                                                                        Kallas Remarks by Steve Kallas

Nobody who has remotely followed the case can really be surprised that Lawrence Taylor was indicted today by a Rockland County grand jury (see Kallas Remarks, 5/8/10). What is interesting, however, is what he has been charged with and how many counts he is facing in court in Rockland County. As stated before, this is unlikely to have a happy ending for one of the greatest football players ever.

THE INDICTMENT

LT has been charged with two Class E felonies, two Class A misdemeanors and two Class B misdemeanors. Most know about the first Class E felony LT is charged with, Rape in the third degree, which makes it a felony when, being 21 or older, a person engages in sexual intercourse with another person less than 17 (New York Penal Law section 130.25). The second Class E felony, discussed by former Bronx Assistant District Attorney Joseph Heinzmann in a prior post (Kallas Remarks, 5/8/10), is Criminal sexual act in the third degree, which occurs when a person 21 or over engages in oral or anal sexual conduct with another person less than 17 (New York Penal Law section 130.40 (2).

Each of these Class E felonies is punishable by up to four years in prison.

LT has also been indicted for two Class A misdemeanors: Patronizing a Prostitute (New York Penal Law section 230.04), which is exactly what it sounds like; and Endangering the welfare of a child (New York Penal Law section 260.10 (1)), which one is guilty of if “he knowingly acts in a manner likely to be injurious to the physical, mental or moral welfare of a child less than seventeen years old … .”

Each of these Class A misdemeanors is punishable by up to one year in prison.

LT has also been charged with two Class B misdemeanors, both for Sexual abuse in the third degree (New York Penal Law section 130.55), which occurs when a person “subjects another person to sexual contact without the latter’s consent.”

Each of these Class B misdemeanors is punishable by up to six months in prison.

WHAT, IF ANYTHING, HAS LT ADMITTED TO?

While we have heard through LT’s lawyer, New York City attorney Arthur Aidala, that LT denies having sex with this underage girl, he did admit that “there was some kind of contact” in that hotel room in Suffern, New York back in May.

In a federal criminal complaint filed against the alleged pimp of the underage girl, Rasheed Davis, LT supposedly told police that he “met with a female” and, after “engaging in sex acts,’ he (LT) paid her “300 dollars in cash.”

If this is true, then LT is already guilty of the two Class A misdemeanors, maybe the two Class B misdemeanors and, depending on the “sex acts,” possibly one or both of the Class E felonies.

That is obviously plenty of trouble and LT’s lawyer will presumably argue that LT never made those statements nor commited those acts.

WHAT ABOUT THE LT “I PLEASURED MYSELF” DEFENSE?

According to ABCNews.com, back in early May, a “source close to” LT told ABC News that LT’s defense was that he never touched the young girl, but, rather, he masturbated in her presence.

Assuming the truth of this defense, something that will obviously be a topic of debate and testimony if there ever is a trial, the problem for LT will be that, even if believed, LT would essentially be admitting to the two Class A misdemeanors, Patronizing a prostitute and endangering the welfare of a child (by pleasuring himself in front of her).

Since each of these charges is punishable by up to one year in prison, Taylor could be looking at up to two years in prison without conviction of any felony charge.

WILL THE PROSECUTION ACCEPT A PLEA?

An interesting question as there have been reports that Taylor’s lawyers were hoping to have him plead to just the Patronizing a prostitute charge. But it is hard to believe that on this fact pattern (sex, or something, with an underage girl) with this defendant, a prosecutor and/or judge in Rockland County will agree to such a deal.

Depending on the evidence (what’s happened with that used condom found in the room?), Taylor would be lucky to get such a plea. But even though Rockland County is just 20 miles away from New York City, it’s a different, more conservative world up there. If LT was allowed to plead (unlikely) or is even convicted of just the two Class A misdemeanors, it says here that he will do some or even all of the max two years he could be sentenced to after either a plea or a trial.

And it says here that that is the best outcome he can get given the facts above (if true). Obviously, a felony conviction would bring up to four years in prison and the higher end of that range (that is, closer to four years) would not be out of the realm of possibility if he pleads or is convicted on the higher charge.

If LT’s lawyer can keep this in the misdemeanor(s) range, that would be a victory for LT, even if he has to do time. And remember, while LT is innocent until proven guilty, he also can’t use as a defense that he didn’t know she was underage. This is (probably) the classic case of someone believing that someone else is older than she really is (but also remember that her correct age at the time must also be proven – maybe the defense can do something here if the girl was born outside of the United States).

Except for the inclusion of some additional charges, nothing really surprising happened today when Lawrence Taylor got indicted for multiple counts in Rockland County. How it ends up could be a very sad thing for a very great football player.

© Copyright 2010 by Steve Kallas.  All rights reserved.

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