Tatum O'Neal arrested on drug charge

NEW YORK Mon Jun 2, 2008 5:43pm EDT

1 of 4. Academy Award winning actress Tatum O'Neal departs from the criminal court after being arrested on drug related charges in New York June 2, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Chip East

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oscar-winner Tatum O'Neal, the former child actress who chronicled her struggles with addiction in a 2004 memoir, has been arrested on suspicion of buying drugs on the streets of New York City.

A judge released her on her own recognizance on Monday after she spent the night in jail and she was ordered to return on July 28. O'Neal, 44, appeared without makeup, her hair tied into a messy bun, wearing a black tank top and black pants.

O'Neal, who was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance, rejected a deal that would have sentenced her to a two-day drug treatment program in exchange for a guilty plea for disorderly conduct, prosecutors said.

She will enter a plea at her July court date.

The New York Daily News reported she was caught buying crack cocaine from a homeless street vendor on Sunday night three blocks from her home.

A police spokesman said she was seen buying a controlled substance from a man in Manhattan's Lower East Side, once a crime-infested neighborhood that has become trendy.

O'Neal's publicist declined to comment and her lawyer left the courtroom without speaking to reporters.

The Daily News, citing unnamed police sources, reported that O'Neal first told police she was "doing research for a part" and changed her story after police searched her and found a bag of crack, a bag of regular cocaine and an unused crack pipe.

"I've been clean for a long time," the Daily News reported her as telling police. "Today was the first time I was relapsing, but you guys saved me. Can you let me go?"

At 10, O'Neal became the youngest person to win a competitive Academy Award for her supporting role in "Paper Moon," in which she starred along with her father, Ryan O'Neal.

That led to her role in 1976's "Bad News Bears" in which she became, at the time, the highest-paid child star in history, according to the Internet Movie Database.

In recent years she has appeared in the television shows "Rescue Me" and "Wicked Wicked Games."

She married tennis star John McEnroe in 1986 and after their divorce in 1992 McEnroe won custody of their three children following a protracted battle.

In her memoir "A Paper Life," O'Neal wrote that her addiction to heroin in 1995 led to her losing custody of her children, the Daily News reported.

O'Neal has said she later sought help and got off drugs.

Reuters/Nielsen

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