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A Gruesome Account
William Nack
February 10, 1992
Mike Tyson's accuser told jurors at his Indianapolis rape trial of an evening of pain and terror
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February 10, 1992

A Gruesome Account

Mike Tyson's accuser told jurors at his Indianapolis rape trial of an evening of pain and terror

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The two continued to talk for a few more minutes. Then, she testified, a change moved like a shadow over Tyson: "And he just leaned over, and his voice changed and everything. He had been really pleasant and stuff. And it just changed like that. And he said, 'You're turning me on.' ...It kind of startled me. And I said, 'Well, listen. I don't know what you think I came up here for. I'm not like these women you may have up here...I'm not like that.' And I got really nervous and started babbling. And I said, 'I need to use your bathroom. When I come out, I want to go see Indianapolis like you said.' ...And he just grabbed his face like this [she put a hand over her face]. And he said, 'O.K. O.K.' "

She testified that she got up to use the bathroom because she was menstruating and wanted to change her panty liner—an action the defense is expected to cite in arguing that, at this point, she had made up her mind to have consensual sex. In her testimony the woman said that when she left the bathroom, she saw that more than the tone of Tyson's voice had changed in that room. The bedspread had been pulled back, and, she said, "I glanced over and saw the defendant in his underwear...on the bed. He was just sitting there.... I was terrified."

"It's time for me to leave," she recalled saying, at which point he told her: "Come here." He grabbed her arm, telling her, "Don't fight me. Come here." He pulled her toward him. She testified that she fought him but to no avail. "It was like hitting a wall. It didn't do anything."

Pleading with Tyson was useless as well, she testified. In spite of her cries of fear and pain, she said, Tyson raped her on the bed. "It felt like someone was ripping me apart," she said.

The young woman had told her story at least six times before—including her interviews with police, her grand jury testimony and her pretrial deposition—and there had been a strong expectation that Fuller would be able to mine her accounts for damaging inconsistencies. However, in his nearly three-hour-long cross-examination, he could not change the basic shape of her story, and he conspicuously avoided any interrogation of her on the sexual attack itself. The weakness of the cross-examination made her direct testimony appear all the more powerful.

During his opening statement Fuller had revealed his strategy for discrediting the young woman—that she saw Tyson as a wealthy target whom she could lure into a profitable lawsuit. In his cross-examination of the accuser, Fuller indicated that he would call to the stand five other pageant contestants, a pageant official and a policewoman who would testify about a multitude of statements the young woman had allegedly made that would cast doubt on her story. But on Monday, Stacy Murphy, a contestant called by the prosecution, testified that later in the morning in question, Tyson's accuser told her, "I feel so stupid; he raped me." The witness added that the accuser "didn't look like herself.... This was a zombie."

After the accuser stood down, the prosecution presented several witnesses who testified that following the alleged attack Tyson left the hotel and Indianapolis in a hurry—a possible act of flight that under Indiana law could show "knowledge of the commission of a crime." Foster, the limousine driver, testified that Tyson had told her at one point that he was planning to stay in Indianapolis through July 19—the day of the alleged early-morning rape. Testimony by hotel employees indicated that Tyson and his bodyguard, Dale Edwards, checked out of the hotel at 4:30 a.m.—about two hours after the alleged rape. Hotel phone records and testimony by a night clerk indicated that while the alleged victim was still in Tyson's room, Edwards, using a lobby telephone, made airplane reservations for Tyson and himself on a flight to Cleveland leaving at 5:45 a.m.

The first-week testimony presented an ugly portrait of the former champion. Unlike the circumstances of the Florida rape case in which William Kennedy Smith was acquitted in December, Tyson and his accuser did not meet at a bar, and there was no drinking, no dancing and no moonlit beach. According to his accuser's testimony, Tyson's attack on her occurred less than 30 minutes after he picked her up at her hotel, and there was an air of premeditation about it. The woman's account portrayed Tyson as a remorseless brute who laughed at his victim even as he assaulted her and who ridiculed her pleas for him to stop by telling her, "Don't fight me, mommy."

On Monday, the jurors heard two other contestants testify that Tyson repeatedly fondled and groped contestants while attending a pageant rehearsal. But because of a ruling by Gifford, they had not heard still another damning account of Tyson's hours in Indianapolis. Last Saturday, with the jury removed from the courtroom, Garrison appealed to Gifford to permit Foster, a 44-year-old junior high school guidance counselor who owned and operated a limousine service, to testify about her own experiences with Tyson. Garrison said that shortly after Tyson's arrival at Indianapolis International Airport, Tyson lured Foster into a hotel room by employing much the same ruse that the rape accuser had described. "Come in," Tyson said to Foster, according to Garrison. "I just want to talk." After locking the door behind Foster, Garrison said, Tyson grabbed her and started kissing her, backing off only after Foster pushed him away. At another moment, according to Garrison, Tyson exposed himself to Foster.

Garrison told Gifford that Tyson's conduct with Foster was clear evidence of his "state of mind" during his visit to Indianapolis and argued that Foster should be allowed to testify about Tyson's alleged advances toward her. The defense argued vigorously against it. Ultimately Gifford, hewing to Indiana case law, disallowed the testimony, but Foster's account could still be heard later in the trial.

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