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Chris Brown escapes time behind bars in Rihanna assault [Updated]

June 22, 2009 |  3:37 pm

Chris Brown will do six months of "community labor" but no time behind bars for assaulting the pop star Rihanna under the terms of a plea agreement reached this afternoon.

The R&B singer reached a deal with prosecutors less than two hours before the scheduled start of a hearing, in which his former girlfriend was prepared to testify about the violent altercation that left her bruised, bloodied and screaming for help last February on a Hancock Park side street.

Under the agreement, Brown, 20, will serve five years' probation and take a year-long domestic violence prevention class. L.A. County Superior Court Judge Patricia Schnegg also ordered him to stay at least 50 yards away from Rihanna, 21, for the next five years.

After a lawyer for Rihanna said the singer thought the order was too severe given that they often attend the same industry functions, the judge said that at such public events Brown was required to stay only 10 yards away.

The judge said Brown can complete his sentence in his native Virginia, where he owns a home.

"I think it's commendable you took responsibility for your conduct," Schnegg told the singer.

Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, entered the courtroom through a back entrance as Brown, his mother and an entourage of eight filed out.

The pop star, wearing a short black dress and pearl necklace, listened as the judge explained the terms of the protective order. Her only words were a quick "thank you" to the judge.

Outside the courthouse, her lawyer, Donald Etra, said she "did not object" to the deal when informed of it this afternoon in the L.A. County district attorney's office.

"She was fully prepared to testify. She would have told the truth about what happened that night," Etra said.

A spokeswoman for the district attorney's office said the agreement was "similar to those in other cases where the defendant is charged ... with this type of felony."

She noted that Brown would be required to perform about 1,400 hours of trash pickup, graffiti removal or similar tasks.

"The sentence is not an easy task," spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said.

[Updated ar 3:52 p.m.: Brown pleaded guilty to assault. The criminal threats charge was dropped].

-- Harriet Ryan and Richard Winton