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Berkeley Campus Crooner Wins Round in Court

October 29, 1992 GMT

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) _ A campus crooner was singing everything but the blues after a judge dismissed charges that his impromptu concerts disturbed the peace at the University of California at Berkeley.

After Wednesday’s hearing in Municipal Court, Rick Starr treated reporters to ″I Will Wait for You,″ from the movie ″Umbrellas of Cherbourg.″

Starr was in court to face charges stemming from a university administrator’s complaint about his somewhat off-key serenades. Thomas Ventresco said the stress of working 50 yards away from Starr’s concerts was causing him to lose sleep at night.

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But prosecutors declined to take the case to trial, and Judge Julie Conger dismissed the charge. He faced a possible sentence of 90 days or a $400 fine.

Starr, 46, a familiar figure on campus in his leisure suits and battered fedora, had been singing for lunch time crowds for about six years. He claimed he is protected by the First Amendment - the campus, after all, was the birthplace of the 1960s Free Speech Movement.

Despite the dismissal, Starr won’t be returning to his usual post on a university plaza. He is going to look for professional singing engagements.

″He’s been kicked upstairs as far as we’re concerned,″ said Flora Elstein, who describes herself as Starr’s publicist-mother.