The accused is one of the world’s most famous men.

The accuser – a woman who says she was groped and sexually assaulted – isn’t the only one making lurid allegations.

This could be the story of Bill Cosby, circa 2016. It’s not.

It’s the long-forgotten story of Bill Cosby’s daughter Erinn, circa 1989, when she accused famed boxer Mike Tyson of sexual assault. It was an episode when the comedian – who has now been accused of rape, sexual assault or sexual harassment by more than 50 women over four decades – played an active and complicated role in the accuser’s camp in a sexually charged he-said, she-said battle.

Cosby has aggressively defended himself against sexual assault allegations, suing some of his accusers and seeking to damage their credibility as a criminal sexual assault trial looms in Pennsylvania. But when his own daughter, then 23, was the one making the accusations, he took a decidedly less confrontational approach, and gave a hint of his attitudes toward sexual misdeeds and their consequences.

No criminal charges were sought against Tyson, who would later be convicted of raping another woman. Instead, Bill Cosby insisted, through his attorneys, that Tyson seek counseling. It was an approach that would strain an already troubled relationship with his daughter, according to her former attorney.

“He played more of a conciliatory role. She thought he should have handled it more like a father-daughter than like a politician or celebrity,” said Louis J. Terminello, who was Erinn Cosby’s attorney when the allegations became public. “I don’t think he quite looked at it that way.”


The Tyson melodrama traces back to 1989. But Erinn Cosby would not speak about it publicly until three years later, when she said an ex-boyfriend was threatening to leak the story to the tabloids.

Erinn Cosby outlined the accusations in detail to The Washington Post in 1992 and several other media outlets, including Phil Donahue’s popular daytime show. She said she and a friend met the boxing champion and another man at a Manhattan nightclub in November 1989. They decided to leave the club together to find a place to talk. When Tyson’s car turned toward New Jersey, Erinn Cosby asked where they were going. Tyson, whose marriage to actress Robin Givens had ended amid allegations of spousal abuse the year before, told her they were going to a party at his estate.

On the way, Erinn Cosby said, Tyson kept returning to the same theme: Bill Cosby.

“He was very concerned about how my father felt about him,” Erinn Cosby later told a live studio audience on “The Donahue Show.”

“And I said, you know, ‘Everything is fine … My dad supports your fights.’ And he was very happy about that.”

When Tyson and Erinn Cosby arrived at his home, she said the house was nearly empty. When they got to the trophy room, the boxer locked the door. Then he was all over her, she said, pinning her to the floor and groping her until a member of the household staff heard her screams and knocked on the door, giving her an opportunity to flee.

When Erinn Cosby told her father, the comedian’s attorneys got in touch with Tyson’s representatives and insisted that he attend psychiatric counseling, she said on “Donahue.” A recent Bill Cosby biography says the comedian also insisted that his daughter, who had developed a cocaine habit, attend therapy sessions. Erinn Cosby has given a slightly different account, saying that she had decided to enter drug treatment on her own.


Erinn Cosby wasn’t happy with her father’s response. During her “Donahue” appearance, she was asked why she didn’t question her father’s management of the crisis.

“Well, because, at that time, you know, with my own emotions and everything, I really felt that he would handle it,” she told the audience.

Two weeks after the alleged incident, she said, she ran into Tyson at the same nightclub. She says he screamed at her: “How dare you tell your parents? I have to go to therapy for a year.”

The Tyson sexual assault allegations were initially kept out of the media. But the month after his daughter says she was sexually assaulted, Bill Cosby made blistering remarks about her in an extended interview with the Los Angeles Times, calling her “very selfish.”

“She’s not a person you can trust,” Cosby said. “Right now we’re estranged. She can’t come here … You think you’re not a good parent because you don’t answer the call. But you can’t let the kid use you.”

The same year that Bill Cosby was navigating his daughter’s sexual assault allegations, several women say he was engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with them.

Erinn Cosby says she went public after learning in 1992 that a former boyfriend was trying to sell the story of her sexual assault allegations against Tyson to the tabloids.

She agreed to appear on several television programs, including “The Donahue Show.” News of her scheduled appearance, and the basic outline of her allegations, turned up in mainstream media reports in April 1992 – the same week her father’s long run as a television father figure came to an end with the airing of the final episode of “The Cosby Show.” By then, a lot had changed.

Tyson had suffered a thudding fall. In 1990, he had lost his heavyweight title. He’d been ordered to pay a small sum – $100 – to a woman who sued him after accusing him of groping her at a nightclub. Then, in March 1992, he was sentenced in an Indiana courtroom to six years in prison for raping Desiree Washington, an 18-year-old former Miss Rhode Island.

After the sentencing, Cosby – who had struck a conciliatory stance when his daughter accused Tyson of sexual assault – once again spoke in measured tones about the now-notorious pugilist.

“It would be very honorable for the state of Indiana to allow this prisoner to be rehabilitated while he is serving his debt to society,” Cosby said.

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