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Fred Willard can avoid jail in lewd conduct theater case

July 20, 2012 |  4:12 pm

Fred WillardFred Willard will not have to face jail time after police, during a routine inspection of an East Hollywood theater, arrested him on suspicion of engaging in a lewd act earlier this week.

Willard will be able to enroll in a "pre-filing diversion program" in lieu of a criminal filing, said Frank Mateljan, spokesman for City Atty. Carmen Trutanich.

The program is administered by an outside vendor and costs about $380. There are diversion programs for a variety of offenses, including drug and alcohol abuse, in addition to sex-related crimes.

"I want to stress this was and is a fileable case, and should the defendant choose not to enroll or not complete the program, we have the option of filing criminal charges within a year," Mateljan said.

Prosecutors said Willard had a previous lewd conduct arrest dating to 1990.

"Should he complete the course, we will consider the matter closed," Mateljan said.

Willard's attorney on Thursday said the actor did nothing wrong.

"With all due respect to the individual officer, our belief [is] that Fred did nothing in any violation of any law. We will be working vigorously to clear his name in this matter," Paul Takakjian said in a statement to The Times.

Uniformed LAPD vice officers arrested the 72-year-old actor Wednesday evening at the Tiki Theater in the 5400 block of Santa Monica Boulevard.

Officers have inspected the theater 40 times and have made 23 arrests since November, Jafor said.

In response to Willard's arrest, PBS announced Thursday that it would fire the actor from his job as narrator of its new "Market Warriors" series. Willard's credits include "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Wall-E."

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-- Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather

Photo: Fred Willard in April. Credit: Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

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