Singer Don McLean is demanding an apology from a UCLA student group that rescinded its decision Monday to present him with a lifetime achievement award after learning that he had pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges.

McLean, 73, was to receive the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, presented by the Student Alumni Association at the University of California, Los Angeles, on May 17. But after learning from a reporter Monday of McLean’s 2016 arrest in Camden on charges related to domestic violence and his later guilty plea, the group took back the honor.

McLean issued a statement through his publicist Tuesday morning calling for an apology and threatening to take further, though unspecified, action.

“I demand an apology from UCLA for the shabby and disrespectful treatment I received from them over the GIG Award. They had two weeks when I was a ‘candidate’ to vet me out and they didn’t do a simple Google search,” McLean said in the statement. “This story has been around for over three years. At what point has a person paid his debt to society over what was nothing more than a shouting match? There was no violence of any kind and certainly no assault. I am not going to allow this to go unchallenged.”

McLean, best known for his iconic 1971 hit song “American Pie,” also blasted the UCLA student group on Facebook.

“This has been all over the internet for 3 years. Are you people morons? This is settled law. Maybe I need to give you some bribe money to grease the college wheels,” McLean wrote, apparently referring to the nationwide college admissions scandal, that includes charges against a former UCLA soccer coach. “Don’t ever come near me again unless you offer me an apology for the damage you have done me. I am guilty of nothing to do with assault and you had better make that clear. We live in a dark age of accusation and not law.”

McLean was arrested at the home he shared with his wife, Patrisha McLean, in Camden on Jan. 18, 2016, and charged with several crimes related to alleged domestic violence against her. He pleaded guilty to the six charges against him and was convicted of domestic violence criminal threatening, criminal restraint and criminal mischief in Knox County Court on July 20, 2016. Charges of domestic violence assault, domestic violence terrorizing and obstructing the report of a crime were dismissed in July 2017 as part of a plea agreement. He paid a $3,660 fine.

In announcing its decision to rescind the award to McLean on Monday, the Student Alumni Association of UCLA issued a statement saying the group rescinded the honor “upon learning that Mr. McLean had previously been convicted of domestic violence charges.” The statement went on to say the group “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.”

Tod M. Tamberg, senior executive director of UCLA Strategic Communications Media Relations, said Tuesday the Student Alumni Association would have no further comment on McLean or his demand for an apology. Tamberg also said the group has not decided whether someone else will receive the Gershwin award this year.

In his statement about losing the award McLean referred to a letter written by his lawyer, Eric B. Morse, that offers an explanation of his court record. The letter, sent to the Press Herald Monday, says that in July 2017, McLean was convicted “on his plea to three (3) minor criminal counts” and that McLean “was not convicted of assault or of using any force at all.”

“Don McLean entered his pleas not because he was in fact guilty of anything, but to provide closure for his family and to keep the whole process as private as possible,” Morse wrote.

After McLean’s arrest, he and his wife divorced, and Patrisha McLean has become an advocate speaking against domestic abuse. A photographer, she’s created a photo and audio exhibit that includes portraits of women who have been victims of abuse as well as her own allegations of abuse by McLean. The exhibit, “Finding Our Voices: Breaking the Silence of Domestic Abuse,” will be on view this year at various Maine venues.

McLean threatened to sue the Free Press of Rockland newspaper earlier this year for writing about his ex-wife’s exhibition and his lawyer called Patrisha McLean’s claims of abuse “vicious misstatements” that will cause McLean “professional and personal damage.” At the time, the exhibit was about to open at the Camden Public Library.

The George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement was created in 1988 in recognition of composers George and Ira Gershwin, and their contributions to UCLA. Other recipients have included Julie Andrews, Brian Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, Alanis Morissette and Linkin Park.

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