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The 51-year-old ex-linebacker, who led the New York Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991, will serve six years probation.
"She told me she was 19," Taylor, standing with his hands clasped behind him, said in court as he admitted having sex with a prostitute who turned out to be a 16-year-old Bronx runaway. Taylor said he now knows the girl was legally incapable of consent.
Taylor was arrested in May at a suburban hotel.
He previously had pleaded not guilty to third-degree rape, patronizing a prostitute, sexual abuse and endangering a child. He had been resisting a plea deal for months.
Prosecutors said in December he had been offered a six-month jail term and 10 years' probation in exchange for pleading guilty to a felony. Taylor would have had to register as a sex offender. Defense attorney Arthur Aidala had called that offer unacceptable but said he would listen to any other offers.
In a related case, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed a complaint last year against a man who is accused of acting as the girl's pimp. Court papers in that case say Taylor admitted to sex acts with the girl but said he was told the girl was 19.
Ramapo police Chief Peter Brower said after Taylor's arrest that ignorance of a minor's age is not a defense to third-degree rape.
Sentencing is March 22. That same day, state Supreme Court Justice William Kelly will determine what level of sex offender status Taylor will have.
His lawyer said he would seek to have Taylor's probation transferred to Florida, where the former player now lives.