from www.lohud.com – When Lawrence Taylor returns to court on Wednesday, a new judge will oversee rape charges accusing the football icon of paying an underage runaway girl $300 for sex at a Ramapo hotel in May.
State Supreme Court Justice William Kelly has been assigned the case after County Court Judge William Nelson recused himself.
Nelson didn’t provide a reason for his decision, according to his office, the Rockland District Attorney’s Office and others involved in the case.
Nelson filed his order on Thursday leaving the case, according to website operated by the New York State Unified Court System.
Kelly, a former prosecutor and seasoned jurist, will pick up the case, which enters the pre-trial stage of the defense preparing motions to suppress prosecution evidence. Wednesday will mark Taylor’s first appearance before Kelly.
Taylor, 51, a former Bergen County resident now living in Florida, pleaded not guilty on July 13 to felony and misdemeanor charges.
Taylor, who has a history of police run-ins and cocaine and alcohol abuse, is accused of paying $300 to have sex with a 16-year-old Bronx runaway in the Holiday Inn in Montebello.
Taylor came to Rockland for business on May 6. He has been a frequent golfer in the county and wrote in his book that in the past he came to Rockland to buy crack in Spring Valley.
On May 6, a reputed pimp now facing federal sexual trafficking charges brought the girl from the Bronx to Taylor’s hotel room.
The girl — several days before her 17th birthday and legal age of consent — told Taylor on the reputed pimp’s order that she was 19, authorities said.
Regardless of what Taylor was told, an adult having sex with a minor under 16 can be charged with statutory rape.
The felony charges against Taylor include statutory third-degree rape and third-degree criminal sexual act, which involves oral sex, in this case with a minor.
A Rockland grand jury also charged Taylor with two misdemeanor counts of third-degree sexual abuse and single misdemeanor counts endangering the welfare of a child and third-degree patronizing a prostitute.
The top counts could carry a four-year prison sentence, but prison time is up to the judge.
Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe has said his prosecutors would accept a guilty plea from Taylor to the top counts with some jail time. But he has said a conviction after trial could bring recommendations of state prison time.
What’s not negotiable is a guilty plea or conviction to either one of those sex charges that would land Taylor on the New York state sex offender registry.
Defense attorney Arthur Aidala has said he will file pretrial motions seeking to suppress the girl’s identification of Taylor, his client’s statements to police and other prosecution claims.
Taylor didn’t testify before the grand jury.
Aidala declared after Taylor’s arrest on May 6 that his client didn’t have sex with the 16-year-old girl.
Aidala’s comments contradicted Taylor’s statement to the Ramapo police that he paid $300 to have sex with the girl, according to federal court papers charging Rasheed Davis of the Bronx with human sex trafficking for providing Taylor with the underage girl for sex.
The girl also told Ramapo police she had sex with the man in the hotel room who turned out to be Taylor, and he paid her $300.
Aidala hasn’t disputed the teenager showed up at Taylor’s room. He also has said a 23-year-old woman has given defense investigators a sworn statement contradicting the girl’s contention that she had sex with Taylor
Ramapo police went to Taylor’s hotel room after NYPD officers stopped Davis’s car in the Bronx and interviewed the 16-year-old. She had texted her uncle that she was in trouble, and he told the police and set up a meeting place with his niece.
Davis, whose criminal record includes killing a teenage boy in 1991 when he fired a gun into a crowd, is accused of plying the girl with drugs before her sexual encounters, according to the federal complaint.