By LARRY NEUMEISTER, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — A teenager who has accused former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor of sexually assaulting her when she was 16 cried Tuesday as she described her encounter with the NFL Hall of Famer at the start of a civil trial.
Taylor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of sexual misconduct and patronizing an underage prostitute for having sex with her in 2010 and is serving six years of probation. He leaned forward in his chair to watch the 19-year-old testify in U.S. District Court.
The teen, Cristina Fierro, who has since married, told a Manhattan jury hearing her lawsuit that she didn't know who Taylor was when she found him naked on a bed in a hotel room in Montebello, just north of New York City. She says another man forced her to have sex with Taylor for $300. She said she brought the lawsuit to hold Taylor accountable.
The Brooklyn-born Fierro, who grew up in Pennsylvania and New York, began weeping as she graphically described her meeting with Taylor, who says he believed she was 19 at the time.
"He said I had nice curly hair like his wife," Fierro recalled.
She said he told her she was pretty as he massaged her after she turned her back to him.
Fierro said she went to a bathroom to call her uncle, who told her to dial 911. She said she did so and left the phone in her bag, "waiting for shadows to come and banging on the door to come get me." But the police never showed up.
She said Taylor, who played in the NFL for 13 seasons and won two Super Bowls, got on top of her and she squirmed and tried to push him away but it "felt like I wasn't making a difference because of how big he was compared to me."
She said she told him it was her "first time" and he replied, "Just relax."
"It was really rough and painful," she testified, saying she felt suicidal several months later and began taking medication for depression, insomnia and anxiety.
Fierro testified that when the sex was over Taylor "just pulled out money and said, 'Here, can you turn the TV off on your way out?'"
When she returned to the car of the man who had ordered her to have sex with Taylor, she said, she called her uncle and told him in Spanish that calling 911 didn't work. The police were waiting when the car arrived back at the man's Bronx home. The man later was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Taylor's lawyer, Arthur Aidala, said in his opening statement that Taylor never used violence, never threatened Fierro and thought she was sent by a friend who offered "female companionship."
Aidala tried to mitigate the circumstances by noting that Taylor "did have sex with a woman who was 16 years, 11 months and three weeks old."
"I am not condoning what he did," Aidala said. "It's a crime he's been punished for."
He said the lawsuit, seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, is "a money grab" because of Taylor's fame.
With cross-examination set to start Wednesday, Aidala asked the judge if he could tell the jury that a rape kit test showed the semen of two men including Taylor. The judge didn't immediately decide.
Taylor, who lives in Broward County, Fla., led the Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. He was expected to testify Wednesday.
The Associated Press doesn't normally publish the names of accusers in sexual-assault cases unless they agree to be named or identify themselves publicly, as Fierro has done.
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