Actor Paul Reubens Agrees to Plead No Contest to Exposure Charges
SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) _ Actor Paul Reubens of Pee-wee Herman fame will plead no contest to indecent exposure charges and must produce an anti-drug video as part of a deal with prosecutors, his lawyer said Tuesday.
Reubens was not at a brief court hearing, but Sarasota County Judge Judy Goldman ordered him to appear Thursday when his attorneys said he will formally enter the plea.
″By accepting the plea, he can avoid the publicity of a trial and put this behind him,″ Reubens attorney Dan Dannheisser told reporters. ″And this anti-drug message is something he believes in anyway.″
Reubens, 39, was arrested July 26 at an adult theater after detectives said they saw him masturbate twice in 10 minutes during showings of ″Nancy Nurse″ and ″Turn up the Heat.″ He was charged with exposing himself, a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $500 fine.
Under the plea bargain, Reubens must pay the cost of producing the anti- drug video, which will fulfill a requirement that he perform 75 hours of community service.
He also will be required to pay a $50 fine and court costs yet to be determined.
Reubens, who portrayed a chuckling, bow-tied overgown child in television’s ″Pee-wee’s Playhouse″ and movies including ″Pee-wee’s Big Adventure,″ grew up in Sarasota. He lives in Studio City, Calif., and was on a visit when he was arrested.
Prosecutors have promised not to seek a judgment of guilt under the plea bargain. Details, including any requirements of the public service video - will be spelled out at Thursday’s hearing, Dannheisser said.
″It’s a message that will be made available to young people″ both locally and across the country, Dannheisser said of the video. ″He’s producing it. I don’t know whether he’s starring in it or not.″
″But given the need for role models, I think Paul Reubens is a great one,″ Dannheisser said. ″The only people who have a question about whether he’s a good role model for kids are adults - I haven’t seen any kids in that conversation.″
Reubens could not be reached Tuesday for comment. His Los Angeles publicist, Larry Goldman, said only that more details about the public service message will be released over the next few days.
Despite the plea negotiations, Reubens’ attorneys said their client would have been cleared during a trial. They said testimony of the undercover detectives was questionable and a theater security camera videotape showed Reubens in the lobby at the time he allegedly was inside exposing himself.
″He’s absolutely innocent of what he’s accused of doing,″ said Dannheisser.
Reubens felt a crush of publicity could have hindered his chance for a fair trial, the lawyer said.
″It’s just impossible for him to go to trial. ... I know he’s frustrated to some degree and disappointed he can’t exercise his constitutional rights,″ Dannheisser said.
A plea of no contest means a defendant doesn’t challenge the charge but doesn’t admit guilt. The exposure charge also would not go on Reubens’ record.