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Former Lynyrd Skynyrd Drummer Gets Probation on Molestation Charges

December 24, 1993 GMT

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A former drummer with the rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd was sentenced to eight years of probation for molesting two young sisters.

Artimus Pyle was originally charged with capital sexual battery in assaults on the 4- and 8-year-old girls.

In an agreement with prosecutors, he pleaded guilty Wednesday to attempted capital battery and lewd and lascivious assault in the presence of a child.

Pyle, 45, wanted to avoid putting the sisters through a trial, said his lawyer, Craig James. He faced a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the original charge.

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″It’s always been the family’s desire that Mr. Pyle take responsibility for his actions and admit his guilt,″ Assistant State Attorney Laura Havey- Baer said. ″It was never their desire that he serve an extended period in jail.″

Lynyrd Skynyrd was famous for the hits ″Freebird″ and ″Sweet Home Alabama.″ Pyle played with the Jacksonville-based group until it disbanded after a 1977 plane crash killed three members. The surviving members reunited in 1987 and Pyle performed with it until 1991.

He now has his own group, The Artimus Pyle Band.