By JANET McCONNAUGHEY Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Grammy-nominated rapper Mystikal pleaded not guilty on Monday to charges accusing him of raping and choking a woman at his home in Louisiana and of possessing several drugs.
The 51-year-old performer whose given name is Michael Tyler is innocent of all charges, attorney Joel Pearce said after the arraignment in Ascension Parish court in Gonzales, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Baton Rouge.
The charges include first-degree rape, which carries an automatic life sentence.
Pearce said he has not been able to get copies of the two indictments, but they were read aloud in court.
Charges also include simple criminal damage to property, false imprisonment, domestic abuse battery 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,” Pearce said in a telephone interview during his 250-mile (402-kilometer) drive from Gonzales to Shreveport.
He said bond may be discussed at a hearing Oct. 17. Prosecutors said they plan to bring up Tyler’s 2003 guilty plea to sexual battery and extortion as evidence of prior crimes, said Pearce.
Tyler and two bodyguards had videotaped themselves in sex acts with Tyler’s hairstylist. The prosecutor in that case, Sue Bernie, said in 2003 that the woman told investigators that Tyler accused her of stealing $80,000 worth of his checks and told her he would not go to police if she did something “degrading.” The woman denied stealing any money, Bernie said.
A letter in court records before Tyler’s sentencing stated that he had paid the woman $350,000.
He served six years in prison on that conviction, which came the same year that he was nominated for two Grammy awards. He also received a Grammy nomination in 2001.
Pearce said he doesn’t know what the woman who is now accusing Tyler allegedly was robbed of, but the criminal damage charge accuses him of breaking the band of her Apple watch.
Pearce represented Tyler on rape and kidnapping charges that prosecutors in northwest Louisiana dropped in December 2020. Those charges, brought in 2017, had kept Tyler jailed nearly 18 months before he was released on $3 million bond.
“People keep saying it’s his third time to be charged” with rape, Pearce said, but Tyler pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in Baton Rouge. “And in Caddo Parish, after a grand jury indicted him, they un-indicted him.”
Mystikal told The Associated Press in April 2021 that he used to be “a nasty lil’ rapper” but now is proud of lyrics he can imagine rapping to God.