For a married man with kids who’s facing statutory rape charges involving a runaway Bronx girl forced into prostitution, Lawrence Taylor was in a good mood today when his black car pulled up in front of the Rockland County Courthouse in New City. The Rockland Sheriff’s Department cordoned off the walkway to the front door for him.
His lawyer, Arthur Aidala, had pulled up seconds before in a white BMW and parked at the curb to the entrance.
“Hello,” Taylor said. “What’s going on, Bud.”
Then referring to Aidala’s parking spot (clearly illegal), Taylor said, “You must know somebody.”
The lawyer didn’t get a ticket.
When reporters asked Taylor if he had anything to say, he responded, “Have a nice day.”
He walked up to the courthouse door laughing with his friends and at one point he used his massive arms to put his longtime golfing buddy, Dino Kyriacou, in a headlock. Dino, who owns the Ramapo Diner, stands just above Taylor’s shoulder. Dino and other golfing buddies were with Taylor on May 6, before Taylor was arrested on charges of having sex with a 16-year-old girl at his hotel room in Ramapo.
Inside the courtroom, Taylor stood silently before state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly. Taylor got a chair to sit in when his lawyer and prosecutors Arthur Ferarro and Patricia Gunning spoke with the judge.
At one point, after Taylor felt uncomfortable about his dress, Aidala told Kelly, “My client profusely asked me to apologize to the court for not having a jacket and tie. He has great respect for the court.”
Kelly responded bruskly, “He’s suitably attired. No need to apologize.”
What didn’t happen in court is TMZ, the TV-Internet website that tracks the hijinx of celebrities, wanted to video-stream Taylor’s court appearance. Kelly noted state law converning allowing cameras and/or video in courtroom was never reaffirmed by the Legislature.
Both the defense and prosecution said, ” No,” arguing cameras and/or video would be disruotive. Prosecutor Patricia Gunning noted if Taylor goes to trial, the prosecution’s victim is a teenager. Kelly said, No.
Earlier post before Taylor appeared in court:
The countdown is down to two hours before Lawrence Taylor’s 2 p.m. appearance at the Rockland County Courthouse.
If the former linebacker’s past appearances are a barometer, the media from New York City and elsewhere will be out in force to surround him as he enters and leaves the Courthouse. While reporters shout questions to him, Taylor has said little, leaving camera personnel and note-book-holding reporters usually without some word or words of wisdom or quip.
And the media will likely leave without a plea and told to come back another day, though Taylor’s lawyers likely would prefer less attention when he appears in court.
The media show aside, Taylor is facing serious charges — paying $300 to a 16-year-old runaway from the Bronx for sex at the Holidome off Arimont Road in Montebello.
In the background – but not too far away – the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is involved. Federal prosecutors have charged the accused Bronx pimp Rasheed Davis with human sex trafficking, including using violence and drugs to force and coerce the girl to have sex with men. One could surmise that federal prosecutors are interested in what Taylor has to say and what he does concerning the state charges.
The federal complaint against Davis doesn’t help Taylor since it includes Taylor’s admission to Ramapo police that he had paid the 16-year-old (who told him she was 19, not that what she said matters in court) for sex. She told the police that too. And then there is forensic evidence.
Taylor is moving slowly between state and federal prosecutors as his lawyer works on his behalf. Taylor would like to avoid state prison — with the rape and sexual abuse counts carrying up to four years.
A guilty plea to a sex crime would put Taylor on the state sex registry, which could hurt his ability to make money signing autograph or making personal appearances before children.
Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said he’s open to a plea to the top felony counts, 10 years probation and possibly jail time.
If Taylor rolls the dice and goes to trial and is convicted, Zugibe has said state prison joins the equation. Zugibe is quick to add that the judge – in this case state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly – has the final word on sentencing.
Taylor’s lawyer, Arthur Aidala, is a different story. He’ll hold news conferences, offering little insight into the case other than what could happen in the legal process — such as pretrial efforts to suppress his client’s statements to the cops, his client being identified. Aidala has said Taylor didn’t have sex with the girl and claims the girl told a roommate she didn’t have sex with Taylor.
All those different angles will be decided in court — either through a guilt plea or trial.
Top right photo: Lawrence Taylor walking into the Rockladn County Courthouse today.
Second photo: Taylor and his wife walk to a car at courthouse parking lot after a previous appearance.