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Worthy Is Arrested on Sex Charge : Lakers: Houston vice officers take him into custody hours before game on two counts of solicitation of prostitution.

November 16, 1990|MARK HEISLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

HOUSTON — Laker star James Worthy was arrested Thursday afternoon on two counts of solicitation of prostitution and was jailed hours before the team's game against the Rockets.

Worthy was released on $500 bail and rejoined his teammates, arriving in the second quarter.

Worthy refused comment on the arrest.

Sgt. Ross Gonzales, a spokesman for the Houston Police Department, gave these details:

"At approximately 2:30 or 3 o'clock, he (Worthy) was arrested by undercover vice officers on two counts of solicitation of prostitution.

"Our understanding is that he contacted an escort service that we monitor. Two of our vice officers responded to the request he made. He arranged a transaction, at which time they made an arrest."

Gonzales said the charge is a Class B misdemeanor under Texas law.

If convicted, Worthy could be fined up to $1,000 and jailed up to 180 days.

"Well, at this point, I really don't have anything to say about it," Worthy said after the game. "The most common thing to say is, 'no comment.' "

Was he aware of the crowd's reaction?

"I heard it but my mind was elsewhere."

There had been no communication between Worthy and his teammates since his arrest, and they didn't know if he'd play in Houston or tonight in Dallas. Indeed, there was speculation among Laker officials that he would fly home instead.

Worthy ran onto the court with 11:23 to play in the half, and the crowd cheered loudly. When he entered the game with 9:41 to play, it cheered again.

"I heard the crowd," Magic Johnson said. "We all looked. There he was. It was beautiful. It was great of them to give him that ovation. That meant a lot.

"Whatever happened, we're not concerned with. He's here. He played. He showed us a lot. He showed how much he cares about us. Everybody makes a mistake in their life but, hey, he's our boy. I still love him, no matter what he did. I just hope everybody can forget it and rally behind him like this crowd."

Coach Mike Dunleavy said that in the dressing room at halftime, "Everybody got together and told James how happy we were he came to the game, that we're all with him."

Said Worthy: "They're the guys I'm with the most. They're the guys who know me best. Any signs like that--I kinda expected it. These are my friends and . . . it happened.

"I didn't want to run away from the situation. I wanted to run to it and play. The best place for me tonight was here."

Was he staying with the team for tonight's game in Dallas?

"Of course," Worthy said. "Got a game."

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