Rapper Mystikal has pleaded not guilty to rape and drug charges

NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Grammy-nominated rapper Mystikal pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of rape and…

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Grammy-nominated rapper Mystikal pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of raping and strangling a woman in his Louisiana home and possession of several drugs.

The 51-year-old performer, identified as Michael Tyler, is innocent of all charges, attorney Joel Pierce said after the arraignment in Ascension Parish Court in Gonzalez, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Baton Rouge.

The charges include first-degree rape, which carries an automatic life sentence.

Pierce said he was unable to obtain copies of the two indictments, but they were read aloud in court.

The charges also include simple criminal damage to property, false imprisonment, domestic violence by strangulation, simple robbery, possession of heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and Xanax, and possession of drug paraphernalia, he said.

“My client doesn’t even do drugs, so he has absolutely no idea what they were talking about,” Pierce said in a phone interview during the 250-mile (402-kilometer) drive from Gonzalez to Shreveport.

He said bonds could be discussed at the Oct. 17 hearing. Prosecutors said they plan to introduce Tyler’s 2003 guilty plea to sexual assault and extortion as evidence of the earlier crimes, Pierce said.

Tyler and two bodyguards filmed sex acts with Tyler’s barber. Sue Burney, the prosecutor in the case, said in 2003 that the woman told investigators that Tyler accused her of stealing $80,000 worth of his checks and told her he wouldn’t go to the police if she did anything “degrading.” The woman denies stealing the money, Burney said.

A letter in court records before Tyler’s sentencing said he paid the woman $350,000.

He served six years in prison for that conviction, which came in the same year he was nominated for two Grammy Awards. It also received a Grammy nomination in 2001.

Pierce said he doesn’t know what the woman who is now accusing Tyler was allegedly robbed of, but the criminal damage charge accuses him of breaking the strap of her Apple watch.

Pierce represented Tyler on rape and kidnapping charges, which were dropped in December 2020 by prosecutors in northwest Louisiana. Those charges, filed in 2017, kept Tyler in jail for nearly 18 months before he was released on $3 million bail.

“People keep saying it’s the third time he’s been accused” of rape, Pierce said, but Tyler pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in Baton Rouge. “And in Cadd’s parish, after the grand jury indicted him, they dismissed the indictment.”

In April 2021, Mystikal told The Associated Press that he used to be a “funny rapper” but now prides himself on the lyrics he can come up with while rapping to God.

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