When the story broke, the tabloid headlines screamed that Hall of Fame football star, Lawrence Taylor, had been arrested on Thursday, May 6, 2010 for having sex with a 16-year-old-prostitute. One publication referred to her as a “teen hooker.”
As the information started to come in, the public learned that Taylor was being charged with third-degree rape and soliciting prostitution – a reference to the young girl who was brought to his room at the Rockland County hotel. The accounts asserted that Taylor paid $300 for the “encounter.”
For those unfamiliar with New York State law, a Class A felony rape in the third degree occurs when an adult is over 21 years old and the minor is under 17. The man who presented the girl to Taylor, Rashee Davis, was repeatedly referred to in the press as the “girl’s pimp.”
Pimp is a term that has a specific connotation. If Davis had been characterized as a trafficker, a very different and more complete understanding of the story would have been advanced.
In March, the authorities were informed by the family that the girl was missing. The Associated Press detailed that she met Davis two to three weeks ago at a Bronx bus stop. She described to investigators how the 36-year-old man offered her a place to live and a way to earn money.
When a girl is under-age, she is automatically classified as a trafficking victim. Norma Ramos, Executive Director of Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, spoke to me about the rapidity with which traffickers “identify runaways and move in on them.” The statistics show that these children are picked up between six to eight hours after they have gone missing from their homes.
The girl’s uncle received a text message from his niece stating that she was being driven back to the Bronx. She gave him an address, where she was found with Davis. She had a black eye and facial bruising.
Most of the local news stories gave little to no insight to the aspects of human trafficking apparent in this case, nor the prevalence of this activity on New York City streets.