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Fred Willard had earlier lewd conduct arrest, L.A. prosecutor says

July 21, 2012 |  7:40 am

Fred WillardIn announcing Friday that Fred Willard will not have to face jail time after being arrested on suspicion of lewd conduct, the Los Angeles prosecutor revealed that the actor had been arrested on a similar charge two decades earlier.

The L.A. prosecutor said Willard was arrested in 1990 on lewd conduct charges but did not reveal details or the disposition of the case.

Despite that earlier incident, 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 filable 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.

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