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Tyson Indicted; Allegedly Raped Beauty Hopeful

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson Monday was indicted by a special grand jury on charges of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant. He also faces three other related felony counts.

The Marion County, Ind., jurors, who heard nearly 45 hours of testimony, deliberated two hours before deciding to indict Tyson for rape, two counts of criminal deviate conduct and one count of confinement. The charges could bring a total maximum prison sentence of 63 years.

Superior Court Judge Patricia J. Gifford issued an arrest warrant and bail was set at $30,000.

Tyson, who resides near Cleveland, was said to be in Las Vegas and could not be reached for comment, but he has previously denied the charges publicly. Tyson is expected to voluntarily return here and surrender within the next two weeks for arraignment.

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Despite the indictment, Tyson’s upcoming fight against current world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield appears to still be on. The fight, which is projected to be the richest boxing event ever with revenues close to $100 million, is scheduled for Nov. 8 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The grand jury was convened shortly after a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant accused Tyson of raping her on July 19. Tyson, who was here to help promote the Indiana Black Expo, met the alleged victim at the pageant on July 18, and they agreed to meet later that night after a concert they attended separately, prosecutor Jeffrey Modisett said.

“The victim was led to believe it would be platonic, and, in fact, Tyson intended to have sex with her,” Modisett said. “When she refused his advances, Tyson had non-consensual sex with the victim.”

Modisett alleged a rape occurred at 1:30 a.m. in Tyson’s room at the Canterbury Hotel. The following night the alleged victim’s family arrived in Indianapolis and took her to Methodist Hospital where a medical examination “corroborated her allegations,” he said.

A police report indicated the alleged rape was reported almost 24 hours after the incident occurred. The two indictment counts of criminal deviate conduct are for “digital sex” and “oral sex” and the charge of confinement is for restraining the victim in bed against her will. The latter is a felony that is often charged with rape unless a deadly weapon is used.

The prosecutor’s investigation, which tracked Tyson’s activity for the 38 hours he was in Indianapolis, called 28 witnesses who testified in six sessions that began on Aug. 16. Tyson was also called and testified for three hours.

David Hennessy, the alleged victim’s local lawyer, said he is “satisfied the victim’s history can withstand any assault from Mike Tyson.” Hennessy said he was hired because of an onslaught of tabloid attacks on his client after her allegation was made public.

“We don’t harbor any illusions of this being an easy trial,” Modisett said.

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“It’s certainly Mike’s right to go ahead,” said Rich Rose, president of sports for Caesars World Inc., the hotel’s parent company. “Right now the fight is on and we’re going ahead.”

Rose said there are no plans to do anything different now that Tyson has been indicted. “To do anything else would be hypothetical,” Rose said. “If something happens we’ll deal with it at that time.”

Modisett said his office also looked into allegations against Tyson by other women associated with the pageant, but did not take action. He said those allegations may become relevant at the trial.

Tyson is also facing civil suits stemming from other alleged incidents here. A former Miss Black America filed suit in New York against Tyson for $100 million for allegations of “fondling” and the Miss Black America pageant director is suing Tyson in Philadelphia for allegedly conspiring to ruin his pageant.

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Over the years Tyson has made almost as much news out of the ring as in. His year-long, tumultuous marriage to starlet Robin Givens ended in a well-publicized divorce battle. Givens said that Tyson was a manic depressive who beat her.

Tyson said Givens and her mother were “slime” out to pick his pockets.

But the latest controversy is not expected to stop Tyson’s fight against Holyfield.

“This doesn’t change a thing,” said Kathy Duva, a spokesperson for Main Events, the promoter of the fight. “The justice system is set up this way for a reason. You are innocent until proven guilty and there is no way a trial can be held before Nov. 8. So, the fight will go on.”

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Promoter Don King, a Tyson adviser, could not be reached, but his office issued a statement saying it is “confident when all the facts are fully developed he’ll be found innocent of all charges.”

However, Chuck Minker, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said there is a little-known regulation providing that a boxer can be stripped of his license if he is arrested or convicted of a charge involving moral turpitude. Minker said the regulation has never been enforced.

All 15,000 tickets to the fight, at prices between $200 and $1,200, were sold out in 12 days.

Tyson had signed to fight Holyfield almost two years ago, contingent upon him beating lightly regarded James (Buster) Douglas in Tokyo on Feb. 11, 1990. However, Tyson lost and the fight was cancelled. Holyfield beat Douglas on Oct. 25 in Las Vegas to win the title.

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The delay in re-signing the fight was due to a struggle between promoters King and Dan Duva over who would promote the fight. Tyson finally agreed to let Duva be the sole promoter.

Staff writer Earl Gustkey in Los Angeles contributed to this story.


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