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Rip Torn ordered to stand trial on gun, trespass charges

August 12, 2010 | 11:39 am

Rip-torn-court A Connecticut judge on Wednesday ordered Rip Torn to stand trial on charges related to his Jan. 29 arrest inside a bank branch -- including a felony gun charge that carries a minimum one-year prison sentence.

The 79-year-old Emmy winner and his attorney, A. Thomas Waterfall, had been trying to swing a deal to enter an accelerated rehabilitation program for nonviolent, first-time offenders, which would have involved probation and eventually would have allowed Torn's record to be purged.

"This is embarrassing. Mr. Torn likes to be known for the 'Men in Black' movies and the good positive things he's done in his life, not this," Waterfall said in requesting the option. "So I think that in and of itself is a deterrent." The prosecutor disagreed, as did the judge, who deemed the charges too serious to grant the request. Torn was present in the mostly empty courtroom, but did not speak.

But first -- did someone hit Chief Zed with one of those "Men in Black" flashy-things that nukes short-term memory? Because Torn's attorney said Wednesday the actor has no recollection of events the night police found him lying intoxicated inside a bank branch, hat and shoes carefully removed, allegedly in possession of a loaded handgun with a permit two years' expired. He was participating at the time in a court-ordered diversion program for first-time drunk-driving offenders.

Then again, maybe a blood-alcohol level higher than 0.2 -- that's what police say they ...

... clocked Torn's level at two hours after his 9:40 p.m. arrest -- might very well mimic the effects of a flashy-thing. It could also explain the beer-goggles explanation that the actor thought the bank was actually his nearby home. (The court previously determined Torn had no intention of robbing the bank, dropping an initial felony bank robbery charge.)

Waterfall filed a motion Wednesday asking that Torn be evaluated for participation in another diversion program, according to the Hartford Courant, this one for alcohol-dependent offenders; it too would head off time behind bars. The actor has done two months of in-patient rehab and five months of outpatient treatment since his arrest, Waterfall said, and despite being a lifelong hunter has gotten rid of his guns.

Torn is listed in pre-production credits as on board to reprise his role as Zed for "Men in Black 3," the 3-D third installment of the successful comedy franchise, which IMDb says is set to start filming Sept. 13 in New York.

The actor's next court date is Sept. 15, though the requested evaluation might not be finished by then.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Actor Rip Torn enters Litchfield Superior Court in Connecticut on June 8 for a hearing in connection with charges of criminal trespass, carrying a gun without a permit, carrying a gun while intoxicated, burglary and criminal mischief. Credit: Wendy Carlson / Getty Images

Related dispatches from the Ministry of Gossip:

Rip Torn pleads not guilty to criminal trespass, gun charges

Will Smith signed on for 3-D 'Men in Black 3'

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