George Michael Blames Video For Community Service Restriction

AIDS charity Project Angel Food plans to enter plea for court's reconsideration in matter.

LOS ANGELES -- A court's decision to restrict pop singer George Michael from fulfilling 80 hours of community service at AIDS charity Project Angel Food for a May lewd-conduct conviction is at least in part a reaction to his new video mocking the arrest, Michael claimed Monday.

While addressing reporters during a press conference held by the Project, Michael speculated that the restriction was imposed in response to his recent video for the new song "Outside," in which he makes obvious tongue-in-cheek references to his arrest.

He added that his recent claims that the undercover officer involved in his arrest was guilty of entrapment by allegedly luring him into exposing himself contributed to what he said was Beverly Hills Municipal Court Judge Charles Rubin's decision.

"To be frank, I am fully aware that in all likelihood I have prompted Judge Rubin's sudden change of heart by my own actions," he said. "I have talked openly about police entrapment and in my latest video made light of recent events."

Michael told reporters during a press conference at Project Angel Food on Monday that, rather than work at the Project, he has been instructed to fulfill his obligation by contacting schools and other children's centers, encouraging them to do charity work in their spare time.

"This is a worthwhile cause obviously, but I can't see how it can possibly measure up against the needs of the sick or dying," Michael said, while wearing a baseball cap and a Project Angel Food apron.

The 35-year-old singer -- who first came into the public consciousness in the early '80s as half of the pop-duo Wham! -- said he would be willing to do more than the 80 assigned hours if he were permitted to do his time through the Project Angel Food organization. Project Angel Food delivers warm meals to 1,000 men, women and children per day who are living with AIDS.

Correspondence between Rubin and the Volunteer Center of Los Angeles indicates that the judge did not make the decision on his own, according to Deputy District Attorney Ellen Aragon. Rather, he agreed to support whatever decision the Volunteer Center made regarding Michael's service, she added. The Volunteer Center handles registration for those ordered to perform community service.

In addition, Michael claimed that Rubin's Nov. 5 decision to deny an extension on his community service also was in response to the video. Earlier this month, Michael's attorney, Ira Reiner, requested an extension until February, but Rubin would only extend the deadline until Dec. 21.

According to Aragon, Rubin acknowledged the video in court while explaining why he did not think Michael should be granted more time.

A spokeswoman for the Volunteer Center, who asked not to be named, would not discuss the decision and referred all calls to the court. The clerk in Rubin's courtroom said she had no information on the decision.

Calls to Rubin were not returned at press time.

In calling for the court to reverse its decision, Project Angel Food spokesman Ken Hurd said that the Volunteer Center was suspicious that Michael's longstanding relationship with the organization may result in him doing less than the full 80 hours. "We have every intention to make sure he performs all 80 hours with us," Hurd said.

John Gile, the executive director of Project Angel Food, plans to enter a plea at Beverly Hills Municipal Court to request that Michael be permitted to perform his service there, Hurd said.

Michael, whose solo career got off to a controversial start in 1987 with the blatantly sexual single "I Want Your Sex" (RealAudio excerpt), has worked closely with Project Angel Food prior to his lewd-conduct conviction.

"Behind the scenes I have been one of the charity's private donors for several years now, and I felt that my misfortune could at least draw attention and funds to an amazing organization," the singer said Monday.

"Judge Rubin, I remain at your mercy, but whatever you think of me, please, please do not let this unusual opportunity for good go to waste," Michael continued, addressing the judge through reporters.