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Downey Progresses in Drug Program

March 20, 2002

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INDIO, Calif. (AP) _ Robert Downey Jr. is making progress since being placed on probation for drug offenses, a judge said during a court hearing.

Judge Randall D. White determined on Tuesday that the actor was staying clean and urged him to continue treatment.

Downey appeared in a dark suit and looked healthy. He did not speak to reporters, but agreed to sign autographs for fans outside the courthouse.

While his attorney has said Downey eventually will return to work, the actor has said his primary concerns are staying sober and spending time with his son and family.

He was sentenced in July to a year at a live-in rehabilitation center and three years probation after pleading no-contest to cocaine possession and being under the influence.

Downey, nominated for an Oscar for 1992′s ``Chaplin″ and for an Emmy last year for ``Ally McBeal,″ was arrested at Merv Griffin’s Resort Hotel and Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs in November 2000. Authorities allegedly found the drugs in his hotel room.

Any probation violation could send him to prison for up to four years.

His legal troubles started in 1996 when authorities found cocaine, heroin and a pistol in his vehicle. A month later, he passed out in a neighbor’s home and was hospitalized at a substance abuse treatment center. Three days later, he was arrested for leaving the center.

In August 1999, Downey was sentenced to three years in prison for violating probation by missing scheduled drug tests. He was released a year later.

He sought drug rehabilitation after he was arrested again last April and tests showed he had traces of cocaine in his system. That arrest cost him his ``Ally McBeal″ role, but no charges were filed.

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