Former Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor (pictured, with his wife) was accused of having sex with an underage girl who says she's a victim of trafficking. But in a plea bargain, he's managed to avoid jail time.
According to the New York Post, Christina Fierro (she identified herself to the media) arrived at Taylor's hotel room in Suffern, NY last May with bruises on her face, after being "pimped out by a thug." She was 16. She says,
I also told him this was my first time and I was nervous and I didn't feel comfortable. But he was all 'relax.' I did what he told me to do, because I was afraid what would happen if I did not. I was afraid I would be beaten again if I refused.
Taylor's lawyer Arthur Aidala says she's changed her story, and that she initially said, "the lights were off and [Taylor] didn't see my face was bruised . . . Lawrence asked me my age and I told him I was 19." Apparently Aidala's pretty skilled — Taylor got off with six years probation and no prison, after a plea bargain resulted in charges of sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute. In an interview with Fox News, he gave his perspective.
Taylor says, "I didn't go pick her up on no dag-on playground. She wasn't hiding behind no school bus or getting off some school bus. This was a working girl that came to my room." But Fierro says emphatically that she wasn't a working girl:
I just want it to be known that I am not a prostitute. And it makes me sick that I have been labeled as one because of the decisions that allowed Mr. Taylor to plead guilty to patronizing a prostitute. I am a victim and I am hurting.
And therein, of course, lies the problem. Taylor's right that eliminating all prostitution is a fool's errand — and many sex workers and sex worker advocates argue that efforts to do so are unjust. But nearly everyone agrees that ending trafficking, both of children and adults, is a moral imperative. How can we do this? One start would be to draw a clear line between trafficking and voluntary prostitution, and to severely punish those who have sex with trafficking victims. In Taylor's case, the justice system has failed on both counts.