NEW YORK (AP) _ Seventeen months after he sexually abused a high school classmate, nationally touted basketball recruit Richie Parker said the words his victim had waited to hear: ``I am sorry.''

The apology, delivered first during a five-minute phone conversation and later in a public statement Thursday, cleared the way for both teens to put the incident behind them and get on with their lives, their attorneys said.

``I think both kids are at a crossroads in their lives, and both have a chance to do something positive,'' said Michael S. Feldman, attorney for the victim. ``It is her hope that she and Richie can begin to move forward with their lives.''

If Parker, 18, plays professional basketball, he agreed to share a portion of his earnings with the victim. Parker, who was rejected by three colleges over the incident, may play next year at George Washington University.

Parker and another student were accused of forcing the girl to perform oral sex in a stairwell at Manhattan Center high school.

On Wednesday, Parker delivered a personal apology to the girl during a five-minute phone conversation.

``I spoke with my former schoolmate and told her that I am sorry for any hurt I caused her and her family,'' Parker said in a statement issued by his attorney. ``I told her that I know that she has suffered in a way that may take time to heal.

``I am sorry for causing that pain. She accepted my apology and my offer to make this apology public.''

Seton Hall rescinded a basketball scholarship for Parker on Jan. 23, 10 days after he pleaded guilty to sexual assault. Parker, a national top-30 recruit who scored 26 points per game, received five years probation in a plea bargain.

The 6-foot-4 shooting guard was subsequently thrown off his high school team and assigned to a school for troubled students. He will graduate later this month.

Feldman said his client still suffers emotional trauma from the attack, but said she had no problem with Parker going on to play major college basketball.

``It means a lot to her that Richie insisted on conveying his apology privately and in person,'' Feldman said. ``She believes Richie is sincere when he says he is sorry.''

Parker has undergone counseling and therapy since the January 1994 incident.

After Seton Hall withdrew its scholarship, Parker was pursued by Tennessee and Utah _ but both schools backed off amid heavy media scrutiny. Parker recently visited George Washington, where coach Mike Jarvis and president Stephen J. Trachtenberg defended their decision to recruit the teen.

Jarvis was out of his office this week and unavailable to comment on Parker's apology. Parker's attorney, Michael C. Miller, called the settlement ``unequivocally a step in the right direction for Richie.''

Parker recently scored high enough on his SATs to insure his eligibility as a freshman.