NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Grammy-nominated rapper Mystikal pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that he raped and strangled a woman at his Louisiana home and to multiple drug possession charges.
The 51-year-old performer, whose name is Michael Tyler, is innocent of all charges, attorney Joel Pierce 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 sentence of life in prison.
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 abuse by strangulation, simple robbery, possession of heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine and Xanax, and possession of 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 phone interview during the 250-mile (402-kilometer) drive from Gonzales to Shreveport.
He said bond may be discussed at a hearing on Oct. 17. Prosecutors have said they plan to cite Tyler’s 2003 guilty plea to sexual assault and extortion as evidence of prior crimes, Pearce said.
Tyler and two bodyguards were filmed having sex with Tyler’s hairdresser. The prosecutor in that case, Sue Burney, said in 2003 that the woman told investigators that Tyler accused her of stealing his $80,000 worth of checks and told her he wouldn’t go to the police if she did something “degrading.” The woman denied stealing money, Burney said.
A letter in court records before Tyler’s sentencing said he had paid the woman $350,000.
He served six years in prison for that conviction, which came the same year he was nominated for two Grammy Awards. It also received a Grammy nomination in 2001.
Pearce said he doesn’t know what the woman who’s now accusing Tyler allegedly stole, but the criminal damage charge accuses him of breaking the Apple Watch band.
Pearce represented Tyler on rape and kidnapping charges that prosecutors in northwest Louisiana dropped in December 2020. Those charges, filed in 2017, had kept Tyler in jail for nearly 18 months before he was released on $3 million bail.
“People keep saying this is his third time being accused” of 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 indicted him.”
Mystikal told The Associated Press in April 2021 that he was “an ugly rapper,” but now he’s proud of the lyrics he can imagine rapping to God.