The newest episode of NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" has recently been surrounded in controversy due to a special guest star. In the episode that airs tonight, retired boxer Mike Tyson, who served three years in prison for raping a woman in 1992, plays a convict who molested as a child.
His casting has prompted an online petition asking NBC to replace Tyson or pull the episode. The petition was started by Marcie Kaveney, a rape crisis counselor and is also a rape survivor. This morning Kaveney joins “Starting Point” to explain.
When Kaveney learned that Tyson was cast for the role, she says, “Nobody was touching on what it might mean to the survivors to see a convicted rapist on a show...about victims and survivors of rape.”
“Ultimately rape is rape and it’s no less heinous because it happens 20 years ago than it is today,” she says. "The show bases itself around victims stories and survivors stories and that is the problem right there – is that you have survivors having to turn on that show and see Mike Tyson on a that they consider to be theirs that tells their stories that they identify with.”
Kaveney says, “Ultimately...it all comes down to survivors and that you have thousands and millions survivors watching your show and that you have a responsibility to them.” She adds, “The fact that he’s on the show at all is a problem. The fact that he’s playing a victim is an even bigger problem because at what point do you say ‘Ok, are we going to let all the rapists and the murderers out of jail because they had a terrible childhood?’ You have to take responsibility for you actions.”