MIAMI -- Erinn Cosby retreated to this world of shimmering aquas and salmon pinks to find some answers about herself and to forget a few ugly incidents in her young life.

But she has been pulled from the comfortable cocoon of Miami Beach onto the national stage because one of the experiences that she says she's been trying to put behind her involves boxer Mike Tyson. She says Tyson assaulted her in 1989. He denies her charge, saying they have never been alone. The story has attracted this kind of attention -- "Donahue," People magazine, "Nighttalk With Jane Whitney" -- because her family name is part of Americana. Erinn, 25, is the second-oldest child of Bill Cosby, who for three decades has brought comic insight to the complexities of family life in his stage monologues and best-selling books and through eight years as head of television's Huxtable household.

In the 2 1/2 years since she visited the Tyson home in New Jersey, Cosby had told only her family and a few close friends about that evening. She even kept her silence during the highly publicized trial of Tyson for rape. She claims her ex-boyfriend tattled to the National Enquirer, which published the details last month. She decided reluctantly, she says, to talk.

She wanted "the story accurate in all fairness for myself, Mike Tyson and my family," she insists. This trinity hangs over the huge oval table in her attorney's office, where she has come to talk about the incident. She now lives in Miami, which she thought was far enough from the bad times. The heavyweight champion, the powerful parenting team of Bill and Camille Cosby, and the wayward daughter are all tossed together in this public chapter of her life. She would like to keep the three topics apart. Yet, she talks about Tyson with intensity and disgust. The Cosbys are a reluctant subject, sometimes discussed with great mirth and admiration, and at other times with a flat distance.

She wants people to see a new Erinn, and that is how she introduces herself -- no last name -- because she has been burned by bad publicity before, by the Enquirer before. In 1989 the tabloid reported that she was a drug addict. Visibly annoyed that she can't shake this label, she says she was never an addict but that she used marijuana and cocaine. She says she voluntarily went to a treatment center for 31 days, to get some answers about herself. "The only thing I have to say is that I am over all of that stuff," she says. Protracted sighs replace the laughs that pepper her conversation.

She is one of five Cosby children. Tall like her father and with his dashing smile, she is golden like her mother and has her reserve. She spent an afternoon last week dressed in black biker shorts and an oversize blue sweat shirt. She wore one white high-top sneaker and just one blue sock on the other foot because she fractured it on a vacation in Greece. The logo on her shirt said "BUM" in huge block letters.

Talking about the publication of the Tyson story, and the old reports that inevitably come up, has left her exhausted and frustrated.

"It was just like 'bomb,' " she says, using the word to indicate her surprise. "All of a sudden you are out there, and I know how fast it hits and all these people wanting to talk to me. It is pretty hot, and I certainly didn't have all this planned. ... I knew I had to ... handle this. I would have missed the opportunity to respond. ... Even in the Enquirer story there were pieces of stuff coming out from five years ago, four years ago, when the Enquirer came out with something else on me. It stays with you."

The Dark Memories

This is what she says happened one night in November 1989:

She was 23 and had gone to a nightclub in New York City with a female friend. She ran into a male friend, who was with Tyson. She was friendly. "We were like 'hello,' but basically I was happy to see my friend," says Cosby. About 11:30 p.m., the four of them decided to go somewhere else to talk. No destination was established before they left. They got into Tyson's car, and Cosby sat up front with her male friend. The only conversation she recalls having with Tyson in the car was when he asked her what her father thought of him. "I said he supported all his fights."

When it became obvious that they were headed out of New York, she asked where they were going and was told to a get-together at Tyson's house in New Jersey. She thought that was okay because she was with friends, it was relatively early, and there were cars parked outside Tyson's house when they arrived.

"We get into the house and there is no one there. All the cars were his evidently," she recalls. Tyson invited them to look around. She stopped in one room, asked questions about some boxing memorabilia, and he left the room.

"I was still looking. I heard the door lock, and I turned around and the next thing I knew I was on the ground. He was groping," she says. He kept her face to the floor, pinning down her arms and covering her mouth, according to her account. "He didn't say anything to me basically. It was a lot of struggling and at one point I was able to scream. I had been trying to scream all the time," she says. "I was fighting for my life. I was terrified and I knew I had to do something. I am not going to sit there and let this guy do this."

She says a member of the household staff heard her scream and knocked on the door. Tyson got up and she ran from the room. When Cosby got downstairs, she told her girlfriend, "I just want to get out of here." Tyson, she recalls, leaned over the balcony. "He was trying to offer me money to be quiet. He went into this regression, like he was a little kid. He wasn't concerned about me, he was concerned about, 'will this get out,' that type of thing. He offered the young lady money as well."

When she got back to her parents' home in New York, where she was living, she told them her story. "They were pissed off. They said they would handle it, which they did," she says. "I really didn't want to deal with it. Emotionally I wanted to deal with it. But I didn't want to deal with him."

Two weeks later she ran into Tyson again. Cosby was coming out of the restroom in the same nightclub when Tyson walked up to her. "He was screaming, 'How dare you tell your parents! I have to go to therapy for a year.' I was scared," she recalls. A group of friends surrounded her and faced off Tyson and his bodyguards. "He wasn't upset about what he had done. He was upset about the fact that he had to go. Now my dad knew. He didn't acknowledge that he had done something wrong," she says. She screamed back at him, asking him if he was crazy. Tyson, she says, was asked to leave the club. She told her parents about the second incident and went to a therapist for six months. She says she wrote a letter to Tyson asking for an apology, but she didn't receive a reply.

Bill Cosby declined to be interviewed. A spokesman said the entertainer had "no comment. It's a family matter."

Speaking for Tyson, lawyer Alan Dershowitz said: "Erinn Cosby's three-year-old allegations are demonstrably false. We are reliably informed that Mike Tyson and Erinn Cosby were never alone in the same room together, and there are numerous witnesses who would so testify."

Tyson, who was convicted of raping Desiree Washington, a contestant in the Miss Black America contest, in 1991, is serving a six-year prison term. Erinn Cosby watched news reports of the trial. "I knew and I believed her," she says. "It stays with you. Seeing him every day on TV, I get angry. It is always going to be there. ... I wish I had possibly gone to the police and pressed charges and maybe this would have prevented the whole thing from happening. At that time I was scared ... and really didn't want to deal with it."

Then, last month, a story about Cosby and Tyson was published in the Enquirer. "A former boyfriend of mine {had threatened} to come out with the story," says Cosby. Her lawyer, Louis Terminello, says the boyfriend asked for a payoff not to sell the story. In case he was successful, Cosby prepared a videotape with her version of the incident and left for a vacation in Greece.

Despite the warning, and her preparation, she says she was "stunned." The Cosby Name

The daughter and the father have had their conflicts.

In December 1989, Bill Cosby gave a wide-ranging interview to the Los Angeles Times and talked about his troubled daughter. "She appears to be the only one who is really very selfish. ... I think she's a child who has refused to take responsibility for supporting herself. ... She's never held down a job, never kept an apartment for more than six months. She never finishes anything. She uses her boyfriends. Her problem is behavioral. She's very stubborn. She's not a person you can trust." Bill Cosby's publicist said last week he stands by the quotes.

"I don't know about those quotes," Erinn says now, insisting that "all of this stuff was so long ago. It was ridiculous."

However, she got labeled the bad daughter. "I don't consider myself that at all. Certain things I don't want to do. I have my own way of looking at things, I took care of myself. I don't think that is being the black sheep of the family. I still do the things I want to do. I am an adult. I am not a Huxtable. I am not a little girl."

She says there was never an estrangement, though she broke one of the Cosby cardinal rules when she dropped out of Spelman College. The other four children -- Erika, Ennis, Ensa, Evin -- remain in school. "My parents love me. We have our differences. We do speak," she says. "I have been on my own since I was 17. We are a family, we do family things. I don't tell people who I am, I don't flaunt it, and I don't work off it."

She was born in Los Angeles and moved to Massachusetts with the family when she was 6. She attended a series of public and private schools, finishing high school at a boarding school in Pennsylvania.

She says some of her best memories of childhood were on the Chesapeake Bay, fishing with her maternal grandfather. Her mother's parents live in outer Silver Spring. She laughs when asked if she recognizes herself from her father's books. "There are lots of stories put together," she says.

Since her childhood, she says, she has had dreams of being independent. "It is just the way I am. There is no reason for it," she says. Both she and her father are strong-headed, she says. "My dad is a leader," she says, "and the two of us, I like to be in charge. He has a very smart business side to him and a very direct side."

She admires her monther's independence: "She has her own goals, her own thoughts, and she goes by her own instincts and lives by those instincts," says Cosby. "She is her own boss."

Someone who craves that independence is naturally stung when people use her. Right now, her attorney says, she is going through cleansing: cleansing after a marriage in 1990 that lasted only four months, cleansing from friends who she says have been taking advantage of her since "the first grade."

"The worst experience {of my life} is the accumulation of people who have betrayed me, used me, have deliberately tried to hurt me. That has been the worst," she says. "The good thing about it is I don't have to deal with them anymore."

But she is still trying to erase the history of hurts, such as the Enquirer story two years ago, headlined "Cosby Heartbreak: His Daughter Is a Drug Addict." The story had some reputed quotes from her father and lots of details about her lifestyle.

She first saw it at the supermarket. "I am like, whoa. All of a sudden I am stamped with this big drug addict thing."

She says she did experiment with drugs. "I was young and I was very dependent on this guy and there were a lot of things, adolescence, immaturity. I got to the point one day where I said, 'God, I wanted to make sure there was nothing wrong with me,' " she says. "I was not an addict. I went through a lot of things most people go through. From that I learned a lot. I know who I am. I know you have to deal with yourself." She describes her drug exposure as "using marijuana. ... I wasn't into cocaine that much. I had done it excessively a few times. But I wasn't an addict. I wasn't dependent." She says her boyfriend of the time sold her story to the tabloid.

Since the Tyson matter became public, she says, she has talked to her family but wanted to take this on alone. "I am 25, almost 26. It is important I decide how I am going to do things. I listen to my parents but I don't depend on them," she says.

A year after the encounter with Tyson, she moved to Miami, initially for a vacation at the end of her marriage. She talks softly and cryptically, and doesn't give many details. Of the divorce, she says, "I just had enough of it already."

And she was tired of New York. "For me, everything is so tense there. And I don't like tension. And I don't like stress. I'm not fond of the cold. Miami is like a small town, a family. You don't feel so lonely." Picking Up the Pieces

In the year and half she has been in Miami, she has worked in the art deco district, the hub of clubs, restaurants and modeling agencies for the young, hip set. She had a partial financial interest in a club, which she subsequently sold, and then managed the club for a year before it closed.

The entertainment business is a natural attraction. "My parents entertained a lot, it is one of those things. I am very sociable and am a very nocturnal person. The whole family is. ... When everything is successful, it became more creative. The creative side I really loved," she says. She is joining with a friend to open another club in October. Meanwhile she works part time in a gift and card shop, called Fabulous, near the beach. And she is preparing a portfolio of photographs for a modeling agency. She also helps organize fund-raisers, such as one last week to discourage gay bashing.

Then she relaxes, learning to ride a Harley-Davidson, doing step aerobics, shooting pool, watching movies. "Just going to the beach with my friends and being able to relax is really amazing," she says.

In the Shabeen, a Caribbean hangout, she talks of her generation and the people she admires. Desiree Washington is named first, then Madonna ("She is like, 'This is me and if you don't like it, then forget you' "), her mother and her grandmothers.

Her paternal grandmother, she says, taught her that "if you are not happy, then nothing is worth doing. Just live your life and don't worry about what this person thinks or this person thinks." Her other grandmother, she says, enjoys laughter. "If I am not happy, then I move away from things that make me unhappy."