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JUST A PLEA

Gary Coleman, the former "What you talking 'bout" kid on TV's "Diff'rent Strokes," pleaded innocent to slugging a woman who sought his autograph at the mall where he works as a security guard.

Coleman, 30, did not appear in court Tuesday for arraignment on a misdemeanor assault charge, and his lawyer entered the plea. The judge set a pretrial hearing for Oct. 20.

The woman, Los Angeles bus driver Tracy Fields, said Coleman signed an autograph and then flew into a rage when she asked him to personalize it for her son on July 30.

He punched her in the eye and kept hitting her after she fell into a gumball machine in a uniform store, she said. She suffers headaches and muscle spasms as a result, she alleges in a $1 million lawsuit against Coleman.

Adam London, Coleman's lawyer, said Ms. Fields is trying to exploit his client's stardom to "gain fame and fortune."

Coleman played the affable Arnold Jackson on "Diff'rent Strokes," which originally aired from 1978 to 1986.

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