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Fred Willard Can Choose Between Sex Crimes Counseling Or Lewd Conduct Charges

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Fred Willard won't have to face charges if he takes a diversion program.
Fred Willard won't have to face charges if he takes a diversion program.

LOS ANGELES — Fred Willard will be allowed to enroll in counseling courses to resolve a lewd conduct arrest that cost the actor a television job.

The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office determined Friday that Willard's case was eligible for a diversion program that will keep him from being formally charged with lewd conduct if he completes the required courses, said spokesman Frank Mateljan.

Willard, best-known as the announcer in the film "Best in Show," was arrested Wednesday night on suspicion of committing a lewd act. He was taken into custody by police doing a routine check at a Hollywood adult theater.

Hours later he was fired as the narrator of "Market Warriors," a show produced by Boston public television station WGBH.

The actor will pay $380 for the diversion program, which is run by a private vendor and may include sessions on decision-making and sex-related crimes. Mateljan said the program will determine which components Willard has to complete. The decision was first reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Mateljan said the case against Willard is viable, and the actor could still be charged if he does not complete the diversion program.

Phone and email messages left for Willard's attorney, Paul Takakjian, were not immediately returned. The actor said in a video posted Thursday by celebrity website TMZ that it was a misunderstanding and denied wrongdoing.

Willard, 72, was nominated four times for Emmys for guest roles on TV's "Modern Family" and "Everybody Loves Raymond." In Pixar's 2008 hit "WALL-E," he voiced the character of Shelby Forthright, the CEO of a ubiquitous big-box chain called Buy'n'Large.

In addition to "Best in Show," Willard has also appeared in other Christopher Guest mockumentary films, including "This is Spinal Tap" and "Waiting for Guffman."

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