By Michelle Nichols
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A woman paid by Lawrence Taylor for sex when she was 16 years old sued the former U.S. football star on Monday for unspecified damages, saying she wanted to stand up for victims of sex trafficking.
Taylor admitted in January that he paid Cristina Fierro $300 for sex in 2010 at a Holiday Inn in Montebello, some 35 miles northwest of New York City. He was sentenced to six years probation and had to register as a sex offender.
Fierro, who is now 18 years old and works in a Target store in Pennsylvania, sued the 52-year-old former New York Giants player under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, according to court papers filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
With celebrity attorney Gloria Allred by her side, Fierro told a news conference in New York City that she was upset that Taylor never apologized to her and angry that he avoided jail.
"I believe that buyers should have the same penalty as the pimp," she said. "No girl deserves to be taken advantage of and I hope to be the voice of girls and young women out there who have been sexually exploited as a result of sex trafficking."
Taylor had agreed to a deal with prosecutors in which he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and cooperated with their ongoing probe into sex trafficking in the New York area. He had initially faced felony charges.
"Suing the buyer can have an impact on the demand for commercial sex of children," Allred said.
"If buyers know that they may be liable for significant ... damages for the physical and emotional suffering that they cause a child it may make them think twice before they engage in this reprehensible criminal act and civil wrong," she said.
Fierro is seeking a trial by jury, which would then determine the amount of damages if the case is proven.
Taylor's lawyer Arthur Aidala accused Allred of exploiting Fierro to raise her own profile.
"Lawrence Taylor and everyone involved in this matter went out of their way to protect Ms Fierro's identity and to offer her help in getting her life back on track," Aidala said in a statement.
"Now, in defending himself, Mr Taylor and other independent witnesses will have to reveal the rather disparaging truth about Ms Fierro and the facts about the evening in question," he said.
Fierro, who was a runaway, had told police that her pimp had verbally threatened her and physically assaulted her before bringing her to the hotel to meet Taylor. The pimp, Rasheed Davis, pleaded guilty to sex trafficking and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Taylor's combination of size, strength and speed made him one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL and he helped the Giants win two Super Bowl titles. He was named most valuable player of the league in 1986, retired in 1994 and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Greg McCune)