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No jail for LT; Hall of Fame linebacker gets probation in plea deal

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NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor avoided jail on Thursday by pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges stemming from a May arrest on rape and prostitution charges.

The former New York Giants great will serve six years probation as part of the agreement, which saw him plead guilty to sexual misconduct and patronizing a prostitute. He will have to register as a sex offender.

In court, Taylor admitted to having sex with a prostitute who ended up being a 16-year-old runaway. "She told me she was 19," he said.

Ignorance of a victim's age isn't a defense in a third-degree rape case.

Taylor had previously rejected an offer that would have given him six months in jail and 10 years probation. With his trial weeks away, he took a lesser deal that will spare him any time in prison.

Taylor decided pleading was in everyone’s best interest, said his attorney, Arthur Aidala.

"He could have taken a much more aggressive road but he decided it was in the best interest of he and his family and the young woman to put this behind him,” Aidala said, adding that he was “cautiously optimistic” that he would have won the case had it gone to trial.

[Related: Golden-voiced homeless man going to rehab]

It's a victory for the former linebacker, although a hollow one if he truly believed in his innocence. After years of battling drug and alcohol abuse, Taylor had been rehabilitating his public image prior to the arrest. He competed on "Dancing With the Stars" in 2009 and was a spokesman for NutriSystem. The diet company dropped him after his latest brush with the law.

Former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Harry Carson was in court supporting Taylor on Thursday.

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