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When his trial began a week ago, Mike Tyson was an odds-on favorite. In a pure credibility contest, all of the advantages were his. Just cast a shadow of doubt on his accuser, something his high-priced legal team was sure to accomplish, and the jury would have to hand down an acquittal.

There was no overwhelming physical evidence, there was no independent eyewitness to the crucial events of July 19, 1991. Tyson, like others accused of "date rape," enjoyed the luxury of playing with a stacked deck.But at what figures to be near the halfway point of his trial for rape, deviate sexual conduct and criminal confinement, Tyson instead surprisingly finds himself in deep, deep trouble. Now it appears that only something that wasn't supposed to happen - Tyson taking the stand in his own defense - can stave off a conviction.

The state has argued that Tyson's accuser, an 18-year-old Rhode Island college student, innocently went out with him, was lured to his hotel room and then was pinned to his bed and raped. The prosecution painted the girl as a bit of a Pollyanna, naive enough to put herself in what was clearly a very dicey situation and not consider the possible consequences.

The defense chose an entirely contrary argument, making the young woman out to be a schemer, a gold digger who bragged to friends about how she - like the fighter's former wife, actress Robin Givens - would take Tyson for his money. After agreeing to sex, and then afterward being treated like a one-night stand, she invented the rape story to get even and get rich.

It's likely that when the defense presents its case, it will indeed be able to chip away at the woman's pristine image. Others will surely come forward to testify that there was plenty of dishing by the accused about Tyson, his intellect (or lack thereof) and his fortune.

But as for the crucial events that took place in Room 606 of the Canterbury Hotel, the defense has nothing to counter the woman's story. Vincent Fuller, the famed trial lawyer who is heading Tyson's defense team, chose not to cross-examine the woman on her account of the rape itself, apparently because he didn't want the jury to hear her story a second time.

Now, only Tyson can contradict her.

On Saturday, Team Tyson had another bad day. Though it won a clear-cut legal victory in the morning, preventing testimony about how Tyson allegedly was sexually aggressive toward his female limousine driver - including exposing himself to her - they otherwise lost ground.

The driver, Virginia Foster, who is also a high school guidance counselor, confirmed two key elements of the accuser's story. She said that when he called the woman from the limousine telephone at 1:40 a.m. Tyson had pleaded with her just to come down and talk. "It was like he was begging for someone to come down and talk to him," Foster said.

"He said it several times, like men do when they're trying to get a woman to do something for them. So they beg and they beg for it. `Please, please, I just want to talk to you."'

Foster then testified that on emerging from Tyson's hotel after she was allegedly raped, the woman appeared to be in a "state of shock." "She was dazed. Disoriented. She looked scared." Foster says the woman mumbled: "I don't believe him. I don't believe him. Who does he think he is?"

Probably even more damaging was the testimony of two doctors who followed Foster, one the emergency-room physician who treated the woman after the alleged rape, the other a gynecologist. Their testimony was straightforward and unequivocal: two abrasions near the entrance to the woman's vagina were in all likelihood the result of a rape.

Dr. Thomas Richardson, who said he had done between 2,000 and 3,000 pelvic exams in the emergency room of Methodist Hospital, said that he'd seen only two instances in which those type of injuries were the result of consensual sex. He was backed up by Dr. James Akin, who during his career had done 20,000 pelvic exams.

When Fuller's partner, Kathleen Beggs, tried to argue medical literature with both doctors, they tore her to ribbons.

The prosecution will likely wind up its case by the middle of the week, but the most damning material is already before the jury: the woman's unchallenged account of the rape; at least two people (a hotel bellman and Foster) who say she looked dazed and disoriented after leaving Tyson's room; the nearly conclusive medical evidence.

And for the defense, the best hope now rests in letting Tyson tell his side of the story.