Former boxer and convicted rapist Mike Tyson has scored a role on NBC's "Law & Order: SVU," quite the controversial casting choice considering the drama is generally sensitive in portraying sex crimes.
The news prompted a rape survivor to start a petition that urges NBC to rethink casting Tyson, TV Guide reports.
According to the site, more than 6,000 outraged people, including "NCIS" star Pauley Perrette, have signed the document.
"I'm sorry that she has a difference of opinion, but she's entitled to it," Tyson said of the Change.org petition's author, Marcie Kaveney. "I'm sorry that she's not happy. [But] I didn't rape nobody or do anything like that, and this lady wasn't there to know if I did or not. I don't trip on that stuff. I'm not trying to get rich and famous; I'm just trying to feed my family. Why should they care? Since I'm clean and sober five years, I haven't broken any laws or did any crimes. I'm just trying to live my life."
The former heavyweight champ was cast to play death row inmate Reggie Rhodes, whose devastating childhood abuse apparently provoked his crime.
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"He's a really damaged young man and a broken person," says Tyson, who served three years of a six-year prison sentence after being convicted in 1992 of raping Desiree Washington, an 18-year-old Miss Black America contestant. "He was taken advantage of any way a man could be taken advantage of. He murdered one of his abusers and now he's on death row working on trying to get an appeal."
Though Tyson had be imprisoned for years, similar to his character, he asserted to TV Guide that he had nothing in common with Rhodes:
"I just got the script and did the best I could," he said. "I have no emotional connection to the role. As a human being I can relate to it, but it has nothing to do with me."
Tyson’s episode will air on Feb. 6.