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Tyson Is Charged, Maintains Innocence : Jurisprudence: After bond is posted, Don King orchestrates news conference with a different agenda.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the midst of a media circus, former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson appeared before a Marion County Superior Court judge Wednesday morning and was charged with raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant and three related felonies.

Tyson, dressed in a charcoal-colored, double-breasted suit, entered a packed courtroom with his attorneys shortly before 8:30 a.m. He kept his eyes away from the gallery of reporters and onlookers as he waited for the hearing to begin.

For the record:

12:00 AM, Sep. 13, 1991 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Friday September 13, 1991 Home Edition Sports Part C Page 5 Column 1 Sports Desk 1 inches; 25 words Type of Material: Correction
Mike Tyson photo: The credit line in some of Thursday’s editions was incorrect. It should have read, Gary Mook/For The Times. He is not a photographer for the Associated Press.

When it did, Tyson appeared sullen as Judge Patricia J. Gifford read the charges and advised him of his constitutional rights. He spoke only once, when he stood to answer Gifford with his date of birth.

As is dictated by Indiana law, Gifford entered a plea of not guilty for Tyson and then set a trial date of Jan. 27. She announced she would rule Friday on the request by Tyson’s attorneys for a gag-order and change of venue.

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Gifford then ordered Tyson transported to a room in the basement of the City-County Courthouse for processing, where he was fingerprinted in front of prisoners who peered through the bars of holding cells.

Tyson was indicted Monday by a special grand jury for rape, two counts of criminal deviate conduct and one count of confinement for allegedly raping a contestant in the Miss Black America Beauty Pageant July 19, when Tyson was in Indianapolis to promote the Indiana Black Expo.

Tyson posted bond of $30,000 and headed for a news conference that Tyson’s promoter, Don King, turned into a dog-and-pony show replete with copies of legal documents and a 26-minute video that had nothing to do with the reason reporters were there but everything to do with why the conference was called.

“I thank God everything is OK,” Tyson said at the Hyatt Hotel news conference.

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“The situation that occurred is totally ridiculous. I didn’t hurt anyone. I love women, my mother is a woman, and I respect them as well. Unfortunately, every time I get involved with one something always happens.

“I’m confused, I’m lost in the whole issue. I am looking forward to my fight against (Evander) Holyfield, and I am confident I’ll be a great champion.”

Despite the indictment, Tyson and his promoters say the scheduled fight against Holyfield Nov. 8 is still on, a decision that has brought outrage from women’s activist groups. The fight, to be held at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is projected to be the richest boxing event ever with revenues close to $100 million. Tyson is guaranteed $15 million and defended his decision to fight by saying it is his work.

“I can’t deal with the rape situation now because I can’t talk about it,” Tyson said. “The fight comes first, then the trial where I’ll deal with it and I’ll be proven innocent.”

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It was a day of contradictions, starting with King duping reporters by pulling up to the front of the courthouse in a limousine replete with everything but Tyson, who arrived in a battered taxi and slipped in the side door.

Then came the seriousness of the arraignment that included a motion by Tyson’s attorneys to issue a gag-order on all parties so that no one would talk about the case and defame Tyson.

Meanwhile, King was arranging for a formal news conference after the hearing and in the meantime began his own in the hallways outside the courtroom.

But the subject of this campaign for justice had nothing to do with why Tyson was here. King started waving copies of deposition testimony from the suit and saying, “Here is a rape in action, it just happens to be an economic one.” King was referring to a longstanding legal battle between Tyson and his estranged manager, Bill Cayton. Tyson says Cayton bilked him for millions.

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Meanwhile, as King continued to talk, Tyson was escorted by sheriff’s deputies from the second-floor courtroom to the basement receiving room. This much is certain: It is not the type of reception Tyson is used to.

In a yellowed-cement processing room, where the water pipes running throughout the building converge on the ceiling to provide the decor, Tyson’s stylish dress stood in sharp contrast. Prisoners, sitting or leaning in the small jail cells--hair askew and clothes rumpled--rose and stared through bars as the celebrity was fingerprinted.

There, next to a sign over a bench that reads, “SIT HERE TO REMOVE SHOES,” Tyson was allowed to keep his Italian leather slippers on. One of his attorneys was upstairs posting a $30,000 bond--believed to be in $100 bills.

Then, after about 40 minutes of processing, an activity that usually takes hours, Tyson was released and slipped out a loading-dock exit into a waiting van that took him back to his hotel room. His total time at the courthouse was about one hour.

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Back at the Hyatt, hotel officials were busy preparing the room for the news conference that King had arranged. Special care was taken by hotel staff to place and polish a Hyatt Hotel placard on the back wall, where it would be in view of the cameras for the news conference about a celebrity indicted for rape.

Tyson, King and two other members of “Camp Tyson” as King refers to it, arrived at 11 a.m. and took the dais. Then, with an audience of about 50 reporters and a dozen video cameras, another show began, intermittently laced with the allegations against Tyson.

King prefered to focus on the Tyson-Cayton suit throughout the 1 1/2-hour news conference, answering reporters’ questions about Tyson’s indictment with lengthy pontifications that began with themes such as the adversity faced by Judy Garland to Pee-wee Herman to Jayne Mansfield and anybody else that seemed to come to his mind. Somehow he always returned to his belief that Tyson had been economically “raped” by his estranged manager.

Reporters, used to King’s banter, kept trying to return to the subject of Tyson’s indictment. But for the dozens of hotel employees and onlookers who had wandered into the news conference from other meeting rooms, it was a spectacle to watch.

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“If you are going to deal with that (the charges of rape) you need to deal with this (the other suit) if you are going to fair,” King said. “If you are going to be sensitive to physical rape, you have to be sensitive to economic rape,” King said.

Tyson sat quietly for most of the conference, hands folded and resting on the table. It was a look that had characterized the earlier events at the courthouse, where he came face to face with charges that could put him in prison for up to 63 years.

King hinted at a possible defense when he spoke of the perils of being a celebrity and dealing with groupies. “When this happens, these types of situations can happen,” King said.

Tyson also addressed this subject: “Despite my celebrity status I make myself vulnerable because I am among common people. . . . and then I put myself in the position to be a victim.”

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The prosecution claims that Tyson met the alleged victim at the beauty pageant July 18, and the two agreed to meet later after a concert they attended separately. The alleged victim claims that Tyson took her back to his room at the Canterbury hotel and raped her.

Tyson said: "(The alleged victim) knows what happened in that room. I know what happened in that room. I am innocent,” Tyson said, naming the accuser.

Upon his arrival early Wednesday morning, Tyson told reporters he was worried and concerned about the charges against him, but he maintained his innocence.

“When he was here to testify before the grand jury (two weeks ago), Tyson was sullen,” said Indianapolis television reporter Jack Rinehart, who first reported the story for WRTV-TV. “But this morning Tyson was more subdued and talkative, as though he is coming to grips with the gravity of the situation. The more media that surrounds him, it brings the situation closer to him.”

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