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LT -- Consequences of the Masturbation Defense

5/23/2010 4:15 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

If Lawrence Taylor manages to convince a jury that he merely self-pleasured himself in front of a 16-year-old girl -- he could still wind up as a registered sex offender.

Here's the rub -- aside from the statutory rape charge, LT is accused of patronizing an underage prostitute.

If the jury buys LT's expected argument -- that he masturbated in front of the girl but did not have sex with her -- he would qualify as a sex offender ... and could be forced to register as one.

LT's defense team is clearly aware of the situation -- and sources close to the case tell us his lawyers will do "everything possible to keep LT off the sex offender registry."


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