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Former actor Gary Coleman appears in court


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Former child actor Gary Coleman, who starred in the sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes" back in the 1980s, appeared in court this morning in Utah County.

He was there to answer to charges stemming from an altercation at a bowling alley in Payson last month.

Coleman and his wife, Shannon Price, arrived at the Payson City Justice Court nearly an hour late for a court hearing which lasted less than five minutes. He told the judge he is not guilty of either reckless driving or disorderly conduct in the incident during which a fan claims he was trying to take a cell phone picture of the actor.

Coleman's attorney says the case will go to trial, and a jury will have to decide what happened that night.

Coleman is accused of attacking a man outside of a bowling alley in Payson. The man said he just wanted to take Coleman's picture. The man told police that Coleman became aggressive and tried to back over him in his truck.

Coleman's attorney, Randy Kester, disputes the accusations and says they have witnesses who will testify to a much different story. He also says Coleman was trying to get away from someone who was harassing him.

"He thinks he didn't do anything wrong and acted as any other citizen would have done," Kester said. "He was just out for a night of entertainment and was trying to leave when he was interfered with by Mr. Rushton, and now all this happened. He was just out for a quiet evening and this is the kind of thing that happens, I guess."

The man who says he was victimized by Coleman is Colt Rushton, who is now suing Coleman and asking for damages for what happened that night. Incidentally, Rushton is now serving time in jail for burglary.

Rushton's attorney, Dustin Lance, said he's not concerned or surprised with Coleman's plea Tuesday.

"It has no effect whatsoever on the civil case," he said. "I wouldn't expect Mr. Coleman to accept responsibility for his actions. My guess is in the next three months or so, I'll take Mr. Coleman's deposition. We'll see if he's got the same attitude once he's put under oath and forced to answer questions."

The case against Coleman will return to court in early December. At that time, the judge will set the case for trial, likely sometime early in 2009.

Coleman lives in nearby Santaquin.

E-mail: spenrod@ksl.com
E-mail: rjeppesen@ksl.com

(The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Sam Penrod
    Randall Jeppesen

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