No Jail Time for Lawrence Taylor

Hall of Fame football linebacker Lawrence Taylor will not spend a day in jail for paying to have sex with a 16-year-old runaway on May 6, 2010. The girl was escorted by her trafficker to Taylor’s hotel room in suburban Ramapo, New York, where Taylor paid $300 to have sex with her.

In March of last year, the girl’s family had informed the authorities that she was missing. About 293,000 children in the United States are at risk of becoming victims of sex trafficking, and many are runaways who are picked up by traffickers. The victim in this situation was recruited by 36-year-old parolee Rasheed Davis, who allegedly promised her a place to stay and a way to make money. Then he forced her into prostitution. On the night of the Taylor incident, she refused to go to Taylor’s hotel, so Davis allegedly kicked her, punched her and drove her there against her will. Her poor physical condition–a black eye and other facial injuries–apparently did not concern Taylor or deter him from having sex with her.

Taylor was originally charged with third-degree rape, a felony offense that carries up to four years in prison, but he pled guilty to two misdemeanors charges, soliciting a prostitute and sexual misconduct (having sex with a person too young to consent). He was given six years probation and will have to register as a sex offender. Ignorance of age is not a defense against statutory rape in New York, but apparently it mattered in this case. Taylor told the court that the victim said she was 19, and this, along with his cooperation with authorities, earned him just a slap on the wrist.

The city of New York is considered a hub for sex trafficking, but since trafficking was added to the penal code in 2008 only 25 arrests have been made (through September 2010) and only five traffickers have been sentenced. The victim in this case is classified as a “severely trafficked person” under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 because she is a minor engaged in prostitution and Davis now faces federal trafficking charges.

It’s a shame that most media coverage has missed the sex-trafficking angle, referring to Davis as a “pimp” instead of a trafficker and the minor as a “teen hooker” instead of a sex-trafficking victim.  It’s also a shame that the johns who drive the market for sex trafficking are not held accountable for their contribution to this heinous crime.

Photo by Flickr user D Sharon Pruitt, Pink Sherbet Photography, under license from Creative Commons 2.0



Dr. Caroline Heldman is the Executive Director of The Representation Project, Professor of Politics at Occidental College in Los Angeles and a Senior Research Advisor for the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media. She also co-founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter, the Lower Ninth Ward Living Museum, End Rape on Campus, Faculty Against Rape and End Rape Statute of Limitations. Her books include Rethinking Madame President: Are We Ready for a Woman in the White House?, Protest Politics in the Marketplace: Consumer Activism in the Corporate Age), Women, Power, and Politics: The Fight for Gender Equality in the United States, The New Campus Anti-Rape Movement and Sex and Gender in the 2016 Presidential Election. Her research has been featured in top academic journals like the American Political Science Review, the Journal of Politics, Political Psychology and Political Communications; and her work has also been featured in the New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, The Huffington Post and The Daily Beast.