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Edited by Steve Wulf
December 23, 1991
The Next Bout
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December 23, 1991


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The Next Bout

Mike Tyson's trial will be unlike William Smith's

As the trial of William Kennedy Smith in West Palm Beach, Fla., came to a close last week with his acquittal on sexual battery charges, the date for the next high-profile rape trial, in which heavyweight Mike Tyson will be the defendant, was being set in concrete: Jan. 27. Last Thursday, Marion County Supreme Court Judge Patricia Gifford, who will preside at the Indianapolis proceedings, denied for a second time a defense motion to postpone the trial.

It would be dicey to draw conclusions about the probable outcome of the Tyson trial in light of the Smith verdict. Tyson certainly has much in common with Smith, another prominent man accused of "date rape." Like Smith, Tyson has been charged with sexually assaulting a woman who was willingly in his company well past midnight. But the two cases may diverge in several ways.

The alleged victim. Tyson's 18-year-old accuser, who was a contestant in the Miss Black America pageant in Indianapolis at the time of the alleged rape, is a freshman at a prestigious New England college who is likely to earn more points for credibility from the jury than did the woman who filed charges against Smith.

Tyson's past troubles with women. The case against Tyson could be bolstered by allegations that he has a long history of making unwelcome advances to women. Similar allegations against Smith were ruled inadmissible by Judge Mary E. Lupo, but the prosecution may argue that advances Tyson made on other pageant contestants that day demonstrated his intentions.

Tyson as a witness. People close to the case don't expect Tyson to take the stand. Tyson obviously was less than convincing when he testified before the grand jury that indicted him in September.

The prosecutor. The state's case in Indianapolis will be presented by J. Gregory Garrison, a 43-year-old, fire-in-the-belly former prosecutor retained specifically for the trial. In the Smith trial, prosecutor Moira Lasch failed to make a strong case.

The judge. Gifford is a former sex-crimes prosecutor, and she may not be as lenient toward the defense as Lupo was.

No TV. Indiana doesn't allow telecasts of courtroom proceedings, which means home viewers won't be able to score this bout round by round, as they did during the Smith case.

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