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Lawrence Taylor pleads guilty to sexual assault

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pro Football Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges he paid an underage girl for sex and must register as a sex offender, prosecutors said on Thursday.

The former linebacker for the NFL's New York Giants was expected to avoid jail time as part of a plea bargain in which he cooperated with state and prosecutors in their ongoing probe into sex trafficking in the New York area.

Taylor, 51, was arrested following the May 6 incident at the Holiday Inn in Montebello, some 35 miles northwest of New York City. He previously faced felony charges in Rockland County Court.

Taylor, who has a history of drug abuse, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of sexual misconduct and one misdemeanor count of patronizing a prostitute. He paid her $300 for sex, prosecutors said.

Taylor was expected to be sentenced on March 22 to six years probation with sex offender conditions, the Rockland County District Attorney said in a statement. He also must pay a $2,000 fine.

Among the previous felony charges handed down by a Rockland County grand jury was one count of third-degree rape, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in state prison.

"Behind the celebrity, this case is really about the indifference shown by this defendant toward a troubled, young woman forced into a life a prostitution," District Attorney Thomas Zugibe said in the statement.

The girl, a runaway, told police her pimp had verbally threatened her and physically assaulted her before bringing her to the hotel.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Frank Pingue)