INDIANAPOLIS -- Judge Patricia Gifford said Thursday the Mike Tyson she saw in her courtroom was far different from the man portrayed by his own defense attorney as a sex-hungry brute.
Before sentencing Tyson to six years in prison for rape, the Marion Superior Court judge said she received hundreds of letters and petitions on Tyson's behalf, characterizing him as a well-meaning but misdirected man-child.
'I'm looking at two different Mike Tysons,' she told the former heavyweight champion. 'I'm seeing two different people. Is the man we see in public as opposite of what I see here?'
Gifford, a former sex crimes prosecutor, asked Tyson how he sees himself as a role model and if he should be held to a higher standard of conduct.
'To a certain sense, yes,' Tyson said. 'I'll make mistakes because I'm human. All you can do is tell children what the right thing to do is. I accept that I should let children know what mistakes I've made.'
Tyson, fierce inside a boxing ring, was shy before the judge for his sentencing. He spoke directly to Gifford for 10 minutes, apologizing to her and even to the media. He said he would have apologized to his accuser, Desiree Washington, had she been there, but still would not admit to raping her.
The fighter had harsh words for special prosecutor Greg Garrison.
'I can read. I read the papers,' Tyson said. 'Some of the things the prosecutor said were not humane, not fair. The things he said were distasteful and disdainful.'
After hearing testimony from Tyson and others on his behalf, Gifford sentenced him and refused to let him go free on appeal because of 'a risk of flight.'
In asking for bond pending appeal, defense attorney Vincent Fuller said Tyson would be harrassed in prison by other inmates.
'In the Department of Correction, Mr. Tyson cannot be treated like any other inmate,' he said. 'He's a marked man. In a penal institution, he becomes an instant target.'
Marion County Prosecutor Jeff Modisett recommended a 6-to-12 year term, rejecting the 'two Mike Tysons' theory.
'The letters tell us what a nice person he is,' he said. 'When he fails, society let him down. (The letters say) in Mike Tyson, there is a nice guy. All that flies in the face of the evidence presented at the trial. It all ignores his disrespectful attitude toward women.'