Fred Willard Could Avoid Lewd Conduct Charges With 'Don't Jerk It in Public' Counseling

When Fred Willard got caught enjoying himself too much at a porn theater, the internet rallied behind him and his right to masturbate freely. But law enforcement doesn't take as kindly to this sort of thing: he's set to be charged with lewd contact.

Don't put on your "FREE FRED" shirts just yet — Willard could avoid official charges if he participates in a diversion program. According to L.A. City Attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan, the program would involve counseling on decision making ("don't whip it out in a public place") and sex crimes.

If he doesn't complete the counseling, however, Willard would face formal charges. And either way, he's unlikely to shake the "Pee-Wee Herman" stigma that haunts all celebrities nabbed with their pants down.

Meanwhile, Willard continues to maintain his innocence, telling TMZ that the whole incident was "a big misunderstanding," and that "it didn't happen." Willard says he and the cops have a difference of opinion.

Seems as simple as, "Were your pants on or off?" But I'll leave that to the professionals.

[Image via AP]