Tyson indicted on rape charges in Indianapolis

September 10, 1991|By Don Terry | Don Terry,New York Times News Service

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Tyson was indicted here yesterday on charges of rape and three other criminal counts. But in spite of his legal troubles, the former heavyweight champion will apparently fight Evander Holyfield in a title bout in November, as scheduled.

The indictment came after a monthlong investigation by a special Marion County grand jury into allegations Mr. Tyson sexually assaulted an 18-year-old woman in his suite at a luxury hotel here during the early morning of July 19.

If convicted of all four counts, Mr. Tyson, 25, could face up to 63 years in prison.

The Marion County prosecutor, Jeffrey Modisett, said that Mr. Tyson and his lawyers have cooperated with the investigation so far and that the fighter, who is in Las Vegas, was expected to surrender to Indianapolis authorities sometime this week. Bond was set at $30,000 and the prosecutor's office expected Mr. Tyson to post the bail immediately.

Mr. Tyson was unavailable for comment.

"We regret that the Marion County, Indiana, grand jury has indicted our client," one of Mr. Tyson's lawyers, Vincent Fuller, said in a statement released in Washington. "However, we remain confident of his innocence and look forward to his ultimate vindication."

Mr. Tyson and his associates have dismissed the charges as part of the price of fame and fortune.

Mr. Modisett said that a trial would probably not begin for at least several months, which means that a trial would not interfere with the multimillion-dollar title fight against Mr. Holyfield on Nov. 8.

The bout's promoters have predicted the fight will be the first in history to gross $100 million. Mr. Holyfield has been guaranteed $30 million; Mr. Tyson, $15 million.

Rich Rose, the director of boxing at Caesars Palace, the site of the bout, was also sure the fight would take place.

"The fight is going ahead as scheduled -- it's that simple," Mr. Rose said.

After the indictment was announced, one of the woman's lawyers, David Hennessy of Indianapolis, stood outside the second-floor courtroom packed with reporters and said that he was pleased that the grand jury was not swayed by Mr. Tyson's "celebrity status."

"This has been a very long, hard summer for a very courageous young lady," he said. "She's trying to heal herself. She continues to live with the nightmare while Mike Mr. Tyson continues to promote himself for a multimillion-dollar payday."

The woman lives on the East Coast and came to Indianapolis last July to participate in the Miss Black America pageant during the 21st Indiana Black Expo, a weeklong event related to black culture and heritage.

Mr. Tyson also came to Indianapolis for Black Expo, on July 17, and "among other reasons to meet the pageant contestants," Mr. Modisett said at a news conference after the indictment was announced.

Mr. Tyson spent 38 hours in Indianapolis, going to bars, a concert and a meeting with pageant contestants.

"There were other women who complained about Mr. Tyson's behavior," Mr. Modisett said.

Early last month, a lawsuit was filed by Rosie Jones, the 1990 Miss Black America, who said that the fighter had treated her in a sexually demeaning way during his stay in the city. That case is still pending.

Mr. Modisett refused to provide many details about the rape case, but he said Mr. Tyson met the woman and persuaded her to go out with him after a concert. Mr. Modisett said "she was lead to believe that their meeting was platonic."

But when they arrived at his suite at the Canterbury Hotel in downtown Indianapolis about 1:30 a.m. on July 19 and she refused his advances, Mr. Tyson forced the woman to have sex with him and to perform two "deviate" sex acts, Mr. Modisett said. According to the criminal complaint, the woman was "compelled by force or imminent threat of force to submit."

Mr. Modisett said that the woman did not report the assault until nearly 26 hours later. He said her parents arrived in the city shortly after the incident and after consulting with them she went to a hospital and then to the police.

In addition to rape, Mr. Tyson was indicted on two counts o criminal deviate conduct and one count of confinement.

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