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Fred Willard finishes diversion program, avoids lewd-conduct trial

Fred Willard on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Credit: Lloyd Bishop / NBCUniversal

Actor Fred Willard won't face a lewd-conduct trial after his arrest at a Hollywood adult movie theater in July because he has completed a diversion program for minor sexual offenses, city prosecutors said.

Willard, 72, completed the program intended to divert offenders from the criminal justice system, said Frank Mateljan, a city attorney spokesman. The program administered by an outside vendor costs about $380 and is offered for a variety of offenses, including drug and alcohol abuse, in addition to sex-related crimes.

Willard was arrested in July at the Tiki Theater in the 5400 block of Santa Monica Boulevard. LAPD officers said they observed Willard "engaged in a lewd act" but did not elaborate. The unit is assigned to crack down on sex crimes in the Hollywood area.

Later that month, the actor appeared on NBC’s “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” joking about the incident that got him fired from a PBS show.

"It's the last time I'm going to listen to my wife when she says, ‘Why don't you go out and see a movie?’” Willard joked on the late-night talk show.

Willard said he thought adult theaters didn’t exist anymore: “I see this one, it had such a Polynesian exotic look to it. I say maybe there's hula dancers in here. Maybe there's mai tais. I went in and I realized I was the only one awake and sober and conscious.”

After cracking a few salacious jokes, host Jimmy Fallon offered his sympathy.

“Fred, I know this must be tough for you,” Fallon said.

“It is. It's very embarrassing,” Willard replied. “It's embarrassing as hell, but let me say this: Nothing happened. I did nothing wrong.”

He added that he has great respect for authorities, “but if you're at the wrong place at the wrong time, everything seems suspicious.”

PBS fired Willard from his job as narrator of its new "Market Warriors" series, noting that the case would be a distraction. Willard's movie credits include "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy," "This Is Spinal Tap" and "Best in Show."

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--Richard Winton

Photo: Fred Willard on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." Credit: Lloyd Bishop / NBCUniversal

 
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