February 10, 1992: Mike Tyson is Convicted of Rape


Mike Tyson is a former American boxer, and one of the most well-known athletes in the sport's history. He was arrested in July of 1991 for the rape of Desiree Washington, 18-year-old Miss Black Rhode Island, in his hotel room.

His trial took place from January 26 1991 to February 10, 1992, when he was convicted of the charges. His chauffeur testified against him, saying that Washington was in a state of shock after. Tyson claimed that everything was consensual and that she insisted on having sex with him.

The jury deliberated for 10 hours before sentencing him to 6 years in prison and 4 years probation. Despite being 25 at the time, he served his time at the Indiana Youth Center. He was released after serving less than 3 years. He is a registered Tier II sex offender for life.


Mike Tyson had a rough start to his life. His step-father left his mother and all of her children to fend for themselves right after he was born. (2)

He grew up in a rough neighborhood, and being overweight with glasses, a lisp and a high voice did not bode well for him. He claimed he was sexually assaulted by an old man, a stranger, off the street when he was 7 years old. (2)

By the time he was a teen, he was a seasoned criminal, familiar with violent and petty crimes. In fact, his boxing skills were discovered at a juvenile detention center by a counselor and former boxer. He introduced him to boxing manager Cus D'Amato, who became his legal guardian after his mother passed away in 1982. (2)

He quickly entered a life of fame and fortune as an incredibly talented boxer. But, in 1988, when he should have been on top of the world, things were beginning to go south for him. (2)

That year, his wife filed for divorce on the grounds of spousal abuse, saying that their relationship was: "Torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could possibly imagine". (2) He had also recently lost his heavyweight boxing title to Buster Douglas in a huge upset. (3)


So, by the time Tyson found himself as a honored guest at the Miss Black America pageant in Indiana, things were not going great for the boxer.

He met Desiree at a rehearsal and they had hit it off. He asked her out on a date and she said yes. They went back to their separate hotels that evening, and she waited for him to call... But he didn't. Until 1:30 am, when he asked if she wanted to come out with him just to walk and talk.

Her roommates urged her to go, and he picked her up in a limousine outside of her hotel. He hugged her and tried to kiss her, but when she backed away, he was very kind and respectful and asked her a lot of questions about her life.

He told his driver that he had to stop in his room to get something and he invited her to come along, and she said okay. But when they got up to his room, he didn't seem to be grabbing anything. He told her where the TV was and took a seat, all the while, Washington was asking why they weren't leaving. He said he just wanted to talk.

They sat down at the foot of the bed together, and that is when, according to Washington, the mood began to shift. He looked at her and his voice changed, and he said, "you're turning me on." She said she wasn't like that and she didn't want to do anything, and excused herself to go to the bathroom. When she came back, he was in his underwear.

She said it was time to go, but he wouldn't let her leave. He grabbed her, stripped her clothes off, and restrained and raped her.

25 hours later, her parents encouraged her to go to the police. She went to the hospital, and the physician who examined her said her condition was consistent with a rape. He testified in her trial. (1)


Every day, after the trial, Tyson would walk through crowds of supporters. He'd wave to them and they'd chant "not guilty" and "hang in there". In fact, many people refused to believe he did it. Over 200 supporters gathered at a church to hold a prayer vigil for him, essentially blaming Desiree for being in his room late at night. (3)

Tyson's lawyer's plan was to discredit her, to say that because he was famous and wealthy, that she just wanted money from a lawsuit. (3)

But the prosecution brought many witnesses, from the chauffeur to the doctor to another contestant whom Washington told about her rape. The contestant recalls Washington being like "a zombie" when she told her. (3)

There was also testimony that he had fondled and groped other contestants during rehearsal. All things considered, Tyson was charged and sentenced to 6 years, of which he only served 3. (3)

After getting out of jail, Tyson made a come back in boxing. He was then banned from the sport for 2 years in 1997 because he bit a piece of his opponent's ear off. He was fined $3,000,000. He made a second come back after his ear-biting stint, but ultimately retired in 2005 following drug charges. (2)

In 2006, he was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and became an alcoholic. In 2012, he was on the verge of death, but in a 2013 interview, he claims he is sober and wants to become a better person. (2)

We sometimes forget, or don't even know about, the horrible things people who are seen as influential have done. Despite his athletic prowess and vow to do better in life, he raped an 18-year-old girl who will likely be traumatized by his legacy forever. Add in his spousal abuse and his over-the-top aggression during and outside of fights, and it is more than just a scratch on an otherwise perfect story.


1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Tyson

2. https://www.crimeandinvestigation.co.uk/article/mike-tyson

3. https://www.si.com/vault/1992/02/10/125944/a-gruesome-account-mike-tysons-accuser-told-jurors-at-his-indianapolis-rape-trial-of-an-evening-of-pain-and-terror

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