|The Alleged Rape|
|Written by Staff ID19|
|Thursday, 23 September 2004 23:02|
The Alleged Rape
Tupac Shakur was photographed by the New York State Department of Correctional Services in March 1995. Tupac was convicted in December 1994 of felony sexual abuse. Spent a few months upstate before being bailed out by Death Row's Suge Knight. Tupac Shakur was sentenced to 1-1/2-to-4-1/2 years in the case.
Some believe that the rape case came about because of the police shooting case in Atlanta. So a little insight on that first.:
Of all Tupac's much publicized, violent confrontations in the tempestuous year 1993, none better illustrated the degree to which he had become the exemplar of the gangsta-rap mandate than his arrest for shooting two off-duty police officers in Atlanta. The officers, he would later say, had been harassing a black motorist. The charges were dropped when it emerged that the policemen had been drinking and had initiated the incident, and when the prosecution's own witness testified that the gun one of the officers threatened Tupac with had been seized in a drug bust and then stolen from an evidence locker.
The shooting in Atlanta made Tupac a hero to some, a demon to others. "They were acting as bullies, and they drew their guns first," Mutulu Shakur says of the officers. Tupac's response "sealed him as not only a rapper but a person who was true to the game. That made him, to the people who were his audience, real--and if not liked, respected." However, to the law-enforcement community and the political conservatives who were rap's most vocal critics Tupac was not only propagating insurrectionist rhetoric in his lyrics but acting it out as well. Gangsta rap had been provoking concern among law-enforcement authorities in this country since at least 1989, when an F.B.I. public-affairs officer wrote a letter to Ruthless/Priority Records, which distributed records by the group N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude). The F.B.I. was concerned, specifically, with the song, "Fuck tha Police." "Advocating violence and assault is wrong, and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action," the F.B.I. officer wrote. In 1992, police groups and their allies--most visibly Vice-President Quayle--denounced Time Warner for having put out the song "Cop Killer," by Ice-T. The following year, Time Warner released Ice-T from his contract, citing creative differences.
Officer Gregory White, of the L.A.P.D., who works in a special gang unit, explains that gangsta rap is a legitimate concern of law-enforcement agencies because it often involves criminal activity. "Rap is a way to launder dirty drug money," he says. According to White, some record companies provide fronts for the gangs. But he adds that it is rap music's virulently antipolice rhetoric that is considered particularly pernicious.
Charles Ogletree, Jr., a black attorney who is a professor at Harvard Law School and who represented Tupac on a number of cases in the last year of his life, notes that "people in law enforcement not only disliked Tupac but despised him. This wasn''t just a person talking, but someone who had generated a following among those who had problems with the police, and who spoke to them. He was saying, ''I understand your pain, I know the source of it, and I can tell you what to do about it.'' Police officers knew him by name, Bob Dole mentioned him by name."
Mutulu Shakur believes that his own relationship to Tupac was a source of continuing concern to law-enforcement authorities. Mutulu, who wears long dreadlocks and is revered within the black-nationalist community, had been a target of the F.B.I. and other police agencies for years before the Brink's robbery. During his trial, the federal district court judge confirmed that "the rights of Dr. Shakur...were violated by the COINTELPRO program." (COINTELPRO was initiated by the F.B.I. to neutralize black-activist leaders as well as certain right-wing extremists.) Recently, in a development not unlike that in the case of Geronimo Pratt, Mutulu was granted permission to file a motion for a new trial on the ground that evidence was discovered indicating that the government withheld information that would have been favorable to his defense.
In the spring of 1994, about six months after Tupac shot the police officers in Atlanta, Mutulu was moved from the penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, to the super-maximum-security federal prison in Marion, Illinois, and from there to the country's most maximum-security institution, in Florence, Colorado. In a memorandum written in February, 1994, the warden of Lewisburg argued that Mutulu needed "the controls of Marion," in part because of his "outside contacts and influence over the younger black element."
Mutulu is convinced that Tupac became a lightning rod after he shot the policemen in Atlanta. "These disenfranchised--the young blacks who are poor and hopeless--have no leader," Mutulu said. "Their heroes are cultural and sports heroes. No one--not Jesse Jackson, not Ben Chavis, not Louis Farrakhan--has as much influence with this segment as rappers. So when Tupac stands up to a white cop, shoots it out, wins the battle, gets cut free, and continues to say the things he's been saying--the decision to destroy his credibility is clear."
WHETHER by happenstance or not, about two weeks after the Atlanta shooting something occurred that could not have been better designed to remove Tupac from circulation--and that would ultimately lead to his undoing. While in New York for the filming of the movie "Above the Rim," Tupac had been socializing with a Haitian-born music promoter, Jacques Agnant. Tupac was playing the part of a gangster named Birdie in the movie, and he told friends that spending time with Agnant helped him in his portrayal of Birdie--much as hanging out with the gangs in South Central provided him with material for his lyrics. "He said that he was studying Jacques--that Jacques was Birdie," Watani Tyehimba recalls. But Tyehimba was alarmed by the relationship, and wanted Tupac to keep his distance. "I told Tupac the first time I met him, Charles Fuller told Tupac, everyone told him he should stay away from Jacques."
Tupac ignored the warnings. "Jacques had all this gold and diamond jewelry," Man Man says. "He had money. He had a nice B.M.W. He could get you in any club. Pac was just starting to be known then, and he couldn''t get in all the clubs. Jacques spent about four or five thousand dollars on Tupac in the beginning--he just overwhelmed him." According to someone else who knew Agnant, Madonna (with whom Tupac would become close) was one of Agnant's celebrity friends.
On November 14, 1993, Jacques Agnant and Tupac went to Nell's, the downtown New York club. A friend of Agnant's, identified only as "Tim," introduced Tupac to a nineteen-year-old woman named Ayanna Jackson.
She expressed her interest in him; they danced together; and she performed oral sex in a corner of the dance floor. They went to his hotel, where they had intercourse. The next day, she called and left many messages on his voice mail, saying, among other things, how much she''d enjoyed his prowess. Four days later, on November 18th, she returned to his hotel suite. There, she found Tupac, Man Man, Agnant, and an unidentified friend of Agnant's. They all watched television in the living room, and then she and Tupac went into the bedroom together. What ensued is disputed; Jackson claims that she was forced to perform oral sex on Tupac while Agnant partly undressed her and grabbed her from behind, and that they then made her perform oral sex on Agnant's friend while Tupac held her. (Man Man, she acknowledged, did not touch her.) Tupac claimed that he left the room when the other men entered and did not witness whatever happened. In any case, Jackson testified that she left the suite in tears and that Agnant told her to calm down, saying that he "would hate to see what happened to Mike [Tyson] happen to Tupac": that is, a woman charging him with sexual assault, which is what Jackson promptly did. She summoned the hotel's security officers, who called the police. Tupac, Man Man, and Agnant were arrested. (Agnant's friend left.)
Indictments were handed down on sex-abuse, sodomy, and also weapons charges (two guns were found in the hotel room), and Agnant's lawyer, Paul Brenner, who had represented the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association for many years, moved that his client's case be severed from the two codefendants'', on the ground that only Tupac and Man Man had been charged with the weapons offenses, and that therefore the indictment was improperly joined. The prosecutor did not oppose the motion--something that Tupac's lawyers say is highly unusual--and the judge granted it.
It was apparently after Agnant's case was severed that Tupac became convinced that Agnant was a government informer and had set him up. Tupac's suspicions were, inevitably, shaped by the experience of his extended family; "Jacques didn''t smell right to me," says Watani Tyehimba, who considers himself particularly attuned to the presence of undercover agents because of his long history with the Panthers and what he learned from COINTELPRO files obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
One night in November 1994, during the trial of Tupac and Man Man, Tupac was at a club with the actor Mickey Rourke and a friend of Rourke's, A.J. Benza, a reporter for the Daily News. Tupac told Benza that he believed that Agnant had set him up. A couple days later Benza wrote an account of the conversation, recalling that Tupac had told him that Mike Tyson had called him up from prison to warn him that Agnant was "bad news." On the night of November 30th, while the jury was deliberating, Tupac went to a Times Square music studio to rap for an artist, Little Shawn, who, according to Man Man, had ties to Agnant. When Tupac and his entourage entered the lobby of the studio, three black men followed them, drew guns, and ordered them to lie down. Tupac reached for his own gun, which he usually wore in his waistband, cocked. The men then shot Tupac five times, grabbed his gold jewelry, and fled.
Convinced that the shooting had also been a setup, and that the shooters would return to finish the job, Tupac checked himself out of the hospital a few hours after surgery, and moved secretly to the house of the actress Jasmine Guy to recuperate. When he returned to the courtroom, bandaged and in a wheelchair, he was acquitted of the three sodomy counts and the weapons charge, but in an apparent compromise verdict, convicted of two counts of sexual abuse--specifically, forcibly touching Ayanna Jackson's buttocks. Bail was set at three million dollars, and Tupac turned himself in and was incarcerated. On February 7, 1995, he was sentenced to not less than one and a half to not more than four and a half years in prison.
A few months after Tupac was sentenced, Jacques Agnant's indictment was dismissed, and he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors. When I asked Melissa Mourges, the assistant district attorney who had tried the case against Tupac, why Agnant had been dealt with in such a favorable way, she said that Ayanna Jackson was "reluctant to go through the case again." Jackson had, however, brought a civil suit against Tupac following the trial. (The suit was subsequently settled.)
Agnant's lawyer, Paul Brenner, believes that Tupac should never have been convicted. "It was a very weak case," he says. "A lot went on" at Nell's. Brenner suspects that the police planted the gun they found in the hotel room. "I worked for the P.B.A. for ten years, I know the police....The police are friends of mine," he says. "But Tupac had no friends in the police. I couldn''t find a policeman who had a good word to say about Tupac."
Tupac's conviction that Agnant had set him up seemed only to deepen with time. He went public with it on his last album, "The Don Killuminati":
I hope my true muthafuckas know
Agnant has files a suit for libel against Tupac's estate, Death Row, Interscope, the producer and the engineer of the song, and the publishing company. Ayanna Jackson has always maintained that she was not involved in any setup.
What role Agnant, the police, or any other governmental entity may have played in the sexual-assault case against Tupac is conjectural. But this much is plain: once the gears of the criminal-justice system were set in motion, Tupac was penalized more for who he was--a charismatic gangsta rapper with a political background--than for what he had done. Melissa Mourges seemed to share the animus many police officers felt for Tupac; Charles Ogletree argued in his appeal that her conduct was so prejudicial (she railed against Tupac as a "thug," among other things) that a new trial was warranted on that ground alone. The setting of bail at three million dollars, Ogletree commented, was "inhumane," and the sentence was "out of line with the conviction." Tupac was sent to the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, a maximum-security prison. "The entire case," Ogletree said, "reeked of impropriety."
IN the very beginning, prison granted Tupac a sort of grace, extricating him from the manic, overcharged existence he had created for himself. Outside, he drank heavily and smoked marijuana constantly. Now his mind was clear. And in Dannemora he was liberated from the demands of his music. His gangsta-rapping had been a pose, he said. He had been required to maintain the post and he did not regret doing so, but it was a pose nonetheless, and one he was abdicating. He had laid down the tracks of a new album, "Me Against the World," before he was incarcerated and, having finished that, he told Vibe magazine, "I can be free. When you do rap albums, you got to train yourself. You got to constantly be in character. You used to see rappers talking all that hard shit, and then you see them in suits and shit at the American Music Awards. I didn''t want to be that type of nigga. I wanted to keep it real, and that's what I thought I was doing. But...let somebody else represent it. I represented it too much. I was thug life."
With the opportunity to reflect, sober, on the events that led to his incarceration, he said he realized that, "even though I''m innocent of the charge they gave me, I''m not innocent in terms of the way I was acting....I''m just as guilty for not doing nothing as I am for doing things." He accepted blame for not having intervened on behalf of Ayanna Jackson. "I know I feel ashamed--because I wanted to be accepted and because I didn''t want no harm done to me, I didn''t say nothing."
In April of 1995, while he was still in prison, he married Keisha Morris, whom he''d been dating for about six months before he was put in jail. Eminently responsible and levelheaded, she was going to school and holding down a job; she didn''t smoke marijuana; and she didn''t immediately have sex with him. Morris told me that on their first date they saw a movie, and then Tupac prevailed on her to stay in his hotel room. When she insisted on going to bed fully dressed, he protested only that "you could take off your sneakers." In the deposition he gave in the civil case brought against him by the family of the young man who had murdered the Texas state trooper, Tupac described his new wife: "She's twenty-two, she's a Scorpio, she...just graduated from John Jay College with a degree in criminal science, and she's taken a year off, she's going to go to law school...she's nice, she's quiet, she's a square, she's a good girl. She's my first and only girlfriend I ever had in my entire life and now she's my wife."
Tupac and Morris talked about moving to Arizona, and what they would name their kids. He started to organize his finances, and attempted to settle the numerous lawsuits pending against him across the country. But in the forbidding, almost feudal backdrop of the Clinton Correctional Facility, his efforts seemed increasingly irrelevant. His lawyers were filing appeals in his case, and under those circumstances he could have been allowed to post bail, but the district attorney's office was fighting his right to do so, and the proceedings dragged on, month after month. What he had spoken of initially when he was at Riker's Island as prison's "gift"--of respite and introspection--now had been overshadowed by the nightmare of incarceration.
"Dannemora was a hellhole--he had a one-to-four year sentence, and they put him in a maximum-security prison!" one of his lawyers, Stewart Levy, says. Levy recalls that while he was visiting Tupac one day, "Tupac had a rectal search when he came in"--to the visiting area. "Then we spent six hours there in full view of the guards. Then the guards started saying ''Tupac! Tupac!'' in this falsetto voice, putting up their fingers with these plastic gloves, waving them--''It's time! It's time!'' Why a second rectal search, when he''d been sitting there in plain view with his lawyer, why, except to humiliate him?" Yaasmyn Fula, who had known him since he was a baby, and who visited him often in prison, recalls, "It was a terrible experience for him--to be captive, in a horrific situation, with guards threatening to kill him, inmates threatening to kill him....He said, ''I have never had people demean me and disgrace me as they have in this jail.''"
Other factors weighing on Tupac contributed to his anxiety about being in prison. He was the breadwinner for a large extended family--his mother, his sister, her baby, his aunt and her family, and more. Iris Crews, one of his attorneys in the sex-abuse case--who had been leery of representing Tupac but became beguiled and devoted ("Had he been this foulmouthed, woman-hating kid, I wouldn''t have done it")--recalled that one day as he sat in court with a bunch of young children climbing all over him during a recess he had remarked to her, "If I don''t work, these kids don''t eat." "He''d been deprived of his childhood, and then, at twenty, he had twenty people to support," she said. Beyond that, he had enormous legal fees for cases all over the country. After nearly six months in prison, despite the money being advanced by Interscope, Tupac's funds were depleted.
Now with that information we all know there are two sides to every story. So here are both sides. First Tupac's version and then Ms. Jacksons version.
Tupac in his own words
Can we talk about the rape case at all?
How did you feel about women during the trial, and how do you feel about women now?
When the charge first came up, I hated black women. I felt like I put my life on the line. At the time I made "Keep Ya Head Up," nobody had no songs about black women. I put out "Keep Ya Head Up" from the bottom of my heart. It was real, and they didn''t defend it. I felt like it should have been women all over the country talking about, "Tupac couldn''t have did that." And people was actually asking me, "Did you do it?" Then, going to trial, I started seeing the black women that was helping me. Now I''ve got a brand-new vision of them, because in here, it's mostly black female guards. They don''t give me no extra favors, but they treat me with human respect. They''re telling me, "When you get out of here, you gotta change." They be putting me on the phone with they kids. You know what I''m saying? They just give me love.
So who knows. Now you know how it was and you can form your own opinion.