Tom Wopat, the former “Dukes of Hazzard” star who’s accused of groping a woman during rehearsal for a highly anticipated musical in Waltham over the summer, was arraigned Friday on charges that he also indecently assaulted a 16-year-old cast member.
Wopat, 66, appeared in Waltham District Court and pleaded not guilty to indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14 and two counts of accosting or annoying a person of the opposite sex, prosecutors said.
He was released on personal recognizance and ordered to stay away from the accuser, according to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan’s office.
Wopat’s lawyer, Neil S. Tassel, said in a phone interview that his client expects to be cleared of wrongdoing.
“He believes he’s going to be exonerated, and he believes that the evidence will show that he’s been the subject of a somewhat overzealous investigation,” Tassel said. “He also looks forward to returning to entertaining people again” in film, television, and music.
Authorities say Wopat, of New York, assaulted both alleged victims while the three of them were rehearsing a Reagle Music Theatre production of “42nd Street.” Wopat was forced to bow out of the show after the allegations surfaced.
According to court records, the teenager spoke with police on Aug. 16, two weeks after Wopat’s arrest on the earlier charges. The teenager said Wopat told her during a rehearsal on July 25 that she was talented and attractive, a Waltham police report said.
He allegedly told the girl, “I’m a creepy old man, you’re really talented and really cute,” according to the report. Then, while they were rehearsing a scene, Wopat allegedly poked her stomach and hit her buttocks with his script, telling the girl, “Nice butt,” police said.
During another rehearsal a few nights later, the report said, the girl spotted Wopat outside a women’s dressing room and saw him “push on [the door] to go in.” As he did so, the document said, Wopat allegedly declared, “I’m going in because I have to re-learn the names of all the girls because of their wigs.”
The teen told him he wasn’t allowed inside, prompting a tense exchange, according to the report.
“Don’t worry, I wasn’t peeking,” Wopat said.
“Ah, you kind of were,” the girl responded.
Police said Wopat continued to hover outside the dressing room and said video footage appears to corroborate the girl’s account.
He previously posted $1,000 bail after pleading not guilty in August to charges of indecent assault and battery and cocaine possession, after police allegedly recovered cocaine from his 1996 Ford Bronco when they took him into custody.
That earlier case stemmed from allegations that Wopat grabbed the buttocks of a woman in the cast, a charge Wopat has denied through a publicist.
His case is playing out amid a widening Hollywood scandal that has seen many luminaries, including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K., accused of sexual assault and misconduct.
Tassel, Wopat’s attorney, said he didn’t think the allegations against other figures in show business will make it difficult for his client to obtain a fair trial in Massachusetts.
“I think [Wopat’s] record of being a gentleman over the past 40 years distinguishes him from the other troubling cases coming out of Hollywood these days,” Tassel said.
Wopat earned a permanent place in the annals of television history with his star turn as Luke Duke in the long-running “Dukes of Hazzard” show, which first aired from 1979 to 1985, and received Tony nominations for roles in “Annie Get Your Gun” in 1999 and “Catered Affair” in 2008.
He’s also a recording artist and announced last month that he was delaying the release of his self-titled album, citing legal issues. His next court date is scheduled for Dec. 18.Travis Andersen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.