Tyson gets 6-year jail sentence Judge says she thinks ex-champ could rape again

March 27, 1992|By Los Angeles Times

INDIANAPOLIS -- Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was sentenced to six years in prison yesterday for raping a teen-age beauty contestant, his protests of innocence rejected by a judge who said she believed he could rape again.

Superior Court Judge Patricia J. Gifford sentenced Tyson to a 10-year term on each of three counts of felony rape and criminal deviate conduct, then suspended four years from each term, which will run concurrently. That means that even with time off for good behavior, Tyson will serve at least two to three years in an Indiana state prison.

"Something needs to be done about the attitude you displayed here," the judge said.

Tyson, 25, who was convicted of raping Desiree Washington in Indianapolis last July 19, spoke in a rambling manner for 12 minutes before the judge passed sentence. He apologized for things he said and for his behavior at the Indiana Black Expo, but denied again that he had raped Miss Washington.

"I didn't hurt anybody: no black eyes, no broken ribs," he said.

"My conduct when I came to Indianapolis was sort of crass, and for that I apologize. But I was made out [during the trial] to be a maniac kind of guy, like a Charles Manson, and that [isn't true]. I got carried away, I got out of hand.

"I have been hurt, crucified and humiliated by this worldwide. My daughter will have to grow up in shame over this, and I'm devastated. I am not guilty of this crime. It's like one big dream, it's not real.

"I am not begging for mercy, but I expect the worst. I am prepared, ma'am, to deal with whatever you have to offer me. Thank you," Tyson said.

Tyson, who was also denied bail pending his appeal, showed no emotion at the sentencing, removing his watch and handing it to his chief counsel, Vincent Fuller. Then he kissed his 81-year-old foster mother, Camille Ewald, goodbye.

He was taken to the police wing on the fifth floor of the Marion County Courthouse for preliminary processing, then was driven to the Indiana Regional Diagnostic Center at Plainfield, Ind., 17 miles west of Indianapolis. There, Tyson will undergo orientation for several weeks before being assigned to a prison by the state's Department of Corrections.

Judge Gifford also sentenced Tyson to a four-year probation period after his release and fined him $10,000 for each of the three counts. She rejected a motion to fine Tyson an additional $150,047, to recover the cost of the trial.

Tyson's legal team lost twice in separate pleas to Judge Gifford yesterday. First, Mr. Fuller asked the judge to allow Tyson to serve his sentence at an Indianapolis halfway house, the Riverside Community Corrections Corp. Second, the legal team asked her to allow the boxer to remain free on bond while awaiting the outcome of his appeal.

She refused bond, saying directly to Tyson: "I am going to deny your petition for bail, owing to the seriousness of the crime. As to whether you are at risk to commit a crime again, quite honestly I feel you are."

Tyson, dressed in a gray suit, white shirt and pattern tie, was then led away by five sheriff's officers through a rear door.

A defense lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, immediately appealed the bail denial. A three-judge appeals panel set a hearing for today on that issue after Chief Appellate Judge Wesley Ratliff denied an immediate stay.

The courthouse lobby was filled with hundreds of spectators and media representatives when Tyson arrived at 8:55 a.m. Across the street, which was closed to traffic, protesters demonstrated, waving placards reading: "We Demand a Fair Trial" and "You Don't Go Out With Strangers at 2 a.m."

Judge Gifford asked Tyson if he perceived himself as a role model for young people.

"Absolutely," Tyson answered. "But kids should look at their own parents as role models, not athletes."

After the trial, the lead prosecutor, Greg Garrison, talked about the sentence.

"Let's be clear," he said, "the sentence is 10 years, not six. If he doesn't behave himself, he will do six years . . . or the whole 10. So, she didn't exactly throw the keys at him and say, 'Have a good time.' "

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