updated 03/19/2004 AT 1:00 AM ET
•originally published 03/19/2004 AT 10:00 AM ET
Paul Reubens – best known as onetime TV character Pee-wee Herman – pleaded guilty on Friday to an obscenity charge as part of a settlement in a child pornography case.
The actor, 51, had faced charges stemming from a 2001 search of his Los Angeles house, during which police said they found materials that appeared to depict children engaged in sexual activity. In a press release, Reubens’s Los Angeles-based rep, Kelly Bush, said the alleged improper images were from his “extensive historical art photography collection.”
In the settlement, Reubens agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor possession of an obscene image “with the intent to exhibit his collection,” said Bush. He was fined $100, received three years’ probation and agreed to be registered as a sex offender, the Associated Press reports.
“We view both of these counts equally in terms of serious nature of child pornography,” Eric Moses, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, told the AP.
In his own statement, Reubens said, in part: “I am glad the prosecutors finally dismissed the child pornography charge without me or the taxpayers having to pay for a costly circus-like trial. I am disappointed any part of my art collection was ever deemed inappropriate. Taking responsibility by calling a few images in this collection ‘obscene’ and paying a $100 fine seemed like the sanest way to make it end.”
The original charge of possessing child pornography had carried a maximum penalty of one year in county jail and a $2,500 fine.
At the time of Reubens’s arrest, police also took into custody actor Jeffrey Jones (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” ), who in July 2003 pleaded no contest in Los Angeles Superior Court to a felony charge of hiring a teenage boy for an X-rated photo shoot.
Jones, 56, was immediately sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to register as a sex offender and undergo counseling, according to news reports.
The judge also prohibited Jones from possessing child porn and advised him to notify the parole board if he planned to travel outside California.
As for Reubens, the actor previously pleaded no contest in 1991 to an indecent exposure charge after his arrest in Sarasota, Fla., for exposing himself in a movie theater. He has been working to resurrect his career ever since.