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Thursday, April 9, 1998 Published at 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK


George Michael goes to ground
image: [ George Michael: police observed him alone in toilet ]
George Michael: police observed him alone in toilet

The millionaire singer George Michael could face a fine of up to $400 and probation after being charged with "lewd conduct" in a public toilet in Los Angeles.

The BBC's Peter Bowes reports from Los Angeles
The superstar has not been seen in public since being arrested on Tuesday afternoon by undercover officers in a park near his Beverly Hills mansion.

He was booked and released two hours later after posting $500 bail and is due to appear in court on May 5.

As well as the fine and probation, experts said he could also be forced to attend an Aids awareness class.

Attorney Ted Thompson said lewd conduct charges are much more common in Los Angeles where police "seem to be interested in these cases".

[ image: The public rest room where George Michael was arrested]
The public rest room where George Michael was arrested
Police say the millionaire singer was watched by police officers in a toilet before being arrested. They say he was alone in the public toilet of Will Rogers Park when arrested by the undercover crime supression unit.

Beverly Hills police spokesman Lieutenant Edward Kreins said: "On April 7 police officers arrested the singer known as George Michael ... for engaging in a lewd act.

Police Spokesman Lt Edward Kreins
Lt Kreins said the four-member unit had been in the park checking for anyone engaging in lewd behaviour.

He said there had been complaints from the public concerning such acts in Will Rogers Park and others in Beverly Hills.

An officer working undercover saw Mr Michael when the unit checked the rest room.

Lt Kreins said he believed Mr Michael was aware that a man had entered the toilets but not that the man was a plain-clothed police officer.

Another man, not connected with Mr Michael's arrest, had been arrested for a similar offence in the park before the pop star's arrest.

The former Wham! singer gave police his real name - Georgios Panayiotou - after being arrested and told them his occupation was a singer.

Star support

Celebrities attending the Capital FM London Awards ceremony on Thursday expressed their support for Mr Michael.

Hot Chocolate star Errol Brown said: "I am sad for him because I think he's a great artist and it's a shame when you get tainted in any way."

And actor Paul Barber, who played Horse in The Full Monty, said: "I'm a fan of his, and it won't stop me playing his music. George Michael is the business, he's great."

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