Don McLean will no longer receive a lifetime achievement award from a UCLA student group after it learned that the singer-songwriter had pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges in 2016, the Portland Press Herald reports.
Last Friday, the Student Alumni Association of UCLA announced they were presenting McLean with the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, while a publicist working for McLean released a statement about the award on Monday. Several hours later, however, the Press Herald reportedly contacted the Student Alumni Association to ask about the award being given to McLean, prompting a spokesperson to reply that the award was now being taken back.
“The decision to rescind the award was made by SAA’s Spring Sing Executive Committee upon learning that Mr. McLean had previously been convicted of domestic violence charges,” said Tod M. Tamberg, senior executive director of UCLA Strategic Communications Media Relations, in a statement. “SAA rejects any behavior — including violence and the threat of violence in all its forms — that does not uphold the True Bruin Values. We extend our support to survivors of domestic violence.”
McLean was arrested at his home in Camden, Maine in July 2016 and charged with misdemeanor domestic violence. He ultimately pleaded guilty to avoid jail time, though he did pay a $3,000 fine as part of the agreement. Not long after, McLean’s now ex-wife, Patrisha McLean, was granted a temporary order of protection against McLean and accused her husband of having “a violent temper” and physically and verbally abusing her for over three decades.
In a letter to UCLA after the SAA decided to rescind the award, the publicist working for McCLean said, “It is publicly disrespectful and grossly humiliating to Mr. McLean to issue and then rescind an award based on the supposition of any violent criminal history.” He added, “I am incredibly surprised and disappointed that an institution such as UCLA, having had adequate time to vet all potential award recipients, would so easily and negligently overlook something as public as what has happened to Mr. McLean and his family three years ago.”
Westby also shared a statement from McLean’s lawyer, dated February 19th, that stated McLean did plea guilty to three criminal counts “not because he was in fact guilty of anything, but to provide closure for his family and keep the whole process as private as possible.”