Mariska Hargitay’s foundation distances itself from show’s decision to cast Mike Tyson on ‘Law & Order: SVU’

January 28, 2013

Joyful Heart Foundation, which was founded by “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay to aid sexual-abuse victims, has disassociated itself from the show’s decision to employ convicted rapist Mike Tyson as a guest star.

“First and foremost, I want to say, ‘We hear you,’ “ foundation CEO Maile Zambuto said on the group’s Web site. “We acknowledge and recognize that this casting decision may be confusing, triggering and perhaps even painful for some people — especially those who are survivors of violence and abuse.”

While acknowledging the foundation “would not exist if not for the show” — and that in recent years the foundation has partnered with “SVU” on various campaigns — “it is not a part of any formal relationship,” Zambuto said.

“We were not aware of this casting choice and we have formally expressed our concerns to the executives and producers at ‘SVU,’ ” continued Zambuto, adding: “We are deeply sorry if this choice on the part of ‘SVU’ has, in any way, caused any hurt.”

That’s an odd choice of words, given the clearly “hurt” comments attached to some of the nearly 6,300 signatures — including some by sexual-abuse survivors and fans of the show — on an online petition hoping to persuade NBC and “L&Q:SVU” to reconsider the casting.

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