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Tyson Found Guilty of Rape, Two Other Charges

By Alison Muscatine
The Washington Post

INDIANAPOLIS

An Indianapolis jury Monday night found boxer Mike Tyson guilty of raping an 18-year-old beauty pageant contestant. The jury deliberated for nine hours before rendering its verdict, which included convictions on two counts of criminal deviate conduct.

Judge Patricia J. Gifford asked Tyson to surrender his passport but allowed him to be free on his original bond of $30,000. She also required him to be at the probation department Tuesday morning for pre-sentencing investigation. She set sentencing for March 6.

Tyson could face a maximum of 60 years in prison. Sources indicated the defense would appeal the verdict.

Shortly before 11 p.m., Tyson entered the courtroom in the Marion County courthouse and, like a boxer entering the ring, marched to the defense table where he has sat for most of the 14-day trial.

Moments later, the jury returned to the courtroom and the foreman identified himself to the judge and handed the verdict to her.

Gifford solemnly read the jury's finding that the former heavyweight champion was guilty of conduct stemming from a sexual assault of a Miss Black America beauty pageant contestant last July. With the courtroom hushed, Tyson sat with his hands in his lap, his muscles tense and with no expression on his face.

His manager, fight promoter Don King, who had been absent for the entire trial, was in the courtroom when the verdict was read.

Tyson defense attorney Vincent J. Fuller asked the judge to poll the jurors, and one by one they said that they believed Tyson was guilty.

Lead prosecutor J. Gregory Garrison asked the judge to revoke bond for Tyson but Fuller said that was unfair because "Mr. Tyson is a celebrity, he has nowhere to go."

Earlier Monday, after impassioned closing arguments from lawyers on both sides, the jury began deliberating whether to send Tyson to jail or to render him a free man.

Tyson's accuser had not been in the courthouse since testifying at the outset that the boxer, whom she met while competing in the pageant, lured her to his hotel room on a date and forced her to have sex as she tried to fight him off.

Shortly before 9 a.m. Monday, the petite college freshman entered Courtroom 4 with her mother and sat in the front row of the gallery, directly behind the prosecutors' table. Throughout four hours of final arguments, she watched and listened in silence, occasionally blowing her nose into a handkerchief. Her mother also watched quietly, her eyes filling with tears when Garrison summed up the case.

Tyson, in his customary position at the defense table, glanced toward the women only occasionally.

Arguing on Tyson's behalf, Fuller stood at a podium and, occasionally pounding his fist and raising his voice, argued that the accuser was a sophisticated young woman who knew what she was getting into when she accompanied the 5-foot-11, 200-plus pound boxer to Room 606 of the Canterbury Hotel in the wee hours of July 19.

By contrast, prosecutors portrayed her as a naive and star-struck young woman who was fooled by "a wolf in sheep's clothing." In a high-wire finale in which he invoked Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight, read Supreme Court case law and generated charisma. "Date rape is not half a crime," Garrison said. "It's a violent crime against a woman -- a crime that every man must recognize and do everything he can to prevent."

The first presentation came from deputy prosecutor Barbara Trathen, who told jurors that the most "ludicrous" evidence presented by the defense was "the lie" in Tyson's testimony that he told the woman upon first meeting her that he wanted to have sex with her.

Fuller suggested, was the issue of consent. Not only had the young woman seen Tyson "gyrating his hips" toward contestants during a pageant rehearsal, she also heard Tyson's overt invitation to have sex.

The accuser had ample opportunity to leave when Tyson began making his advances, Fuller said. First she joined him in his limousine, where he tried to kiss her, Fuller said. "It insults your intelligence to be led to believe that a young woman with this woman's intelligence and sophistication would be kissed on the mouth and not leave the car forthwith," Fuller told the jury.

Instead she voluntarily went to the hotel, to the hotel suite, and into the bedroom, he argued.

Fuller recounted the testimony of the hospital chaplain, who said she overheard the woman say there had been some physical contact with Tyson before the alleged rape. The accuser testified that there was no prior physical contact.

What really happened, according to Tyson's lawyer, was that at the hotel "they talked and engaged in foreplay and in consensual sex. But then she gets offended. ... He rolls over and wants to get some sleep. Suddenly she realizes she has been treated like a one-night stand and her dignity is offended. ... She becomes embarrassed and humiliated by her own conduct."

Garrison ridiculed the defense's claim that the woman was eager to have a sex with Tyson. Garrison reminded the jury that when Tyson called her at 1:36 a.m., the accuser was in bed and tried to reschedule her date. When Tyson said he was leaving the next day, she asked a roommate to accompany her. When the roommate said no, she invited Tyson to their hotel room to talk. When she finally agreed to meet Tyson downstairs, she was still wearing her pink polka-dot pajama underpants and took her camera in case they went to parties with other celebrities. "There she was in bed, lying in wait for poor, defenseless Mr. Tyson," Garrison said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

The "fatal flaw" in the defense's theory, Garrison said, was that the alleged victim was so offended after her sexual interlude with Tyson that she decided to press rape charges. The defense's claim was that Tyson made love to her and invited her to spend the night, Garrison noted. If her goal from the first moment was to get involved with Tyson, Garrison said, that kind of affection and attention would have amounted to hitting "a home run."