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Actor Arrested on Obscenity Charge

'Pee-wee Herman' surrenders following probe in which his art collection was seized.

November 16, 2002|Richard Winton | Times Staff Writer

Actor Paul Reubens, better known as "Pee-wee Herman," was arrested and charged Friday with misdemeanor possession of obscene material improperly depicting a child following a yearlong investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

Reubens, 50, who gained tabloid notoriety after he pleaded no contest to misdemeanor indecent exposure in connection with a 1991 arrest in a Florida adult movie theater, surrendered to the LAPD. He was booked at the Hollywood Division station and released on $20,000 bail.

The arrest comes a day after actor Jeffrey Jones, whose roles have included the principal in "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," was booked on a more serious felony count of using a teenage boy in sexually oriented pictures or films and misdemeanor possession of child pornography.

An LAPD investigation into Reubens and Jones began last year after a 17-year-old boy made a complaint to authorities. Police said Reubens was booked based on evidence gathered by detectives last November when they served a search warrant at his Hollywood Hills home and seized his large art collection, which includes erotic images. Investigators also seized Reubens' personal computers.

Blair Berk, Reubens' attorney, said the misdemeanor charge is "untrue and without merit." Reubens, she said, "has never at any time knowingly possessed any artwork from his extensive vintage and antique art collection even remotely related to anything improper."

District attorney spokeswoman Sandi Gibbons said the office determined that the evidence seized did not warrant a felony prosecution and referred the matter to the Los Angeles city attorney's office, which prosecutes misdemeanor offenses.

City attorney spokesman Ana Garcia said the criminal complaint filed against Reubens charges him with misdemeanor possession of material depicting a child under the age of 18 engaged in sexual conduct as defined by California state law.

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