BOSTON (AP) – A lawyer who beat rape charges after being named one of People magazine’s “Most Eligible Bachelors” was arrested Wednesday for allegedly hitting a police officer who confronted him for urinating in public.

Gary Zerola, 36, was arrested in downtown Boston as fans celebrated the Celtics’ win over the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

Boston Police Sgt. David O’Connor said he watched Zerola, of Boston, unbutton his pants then turn toward the corner of a building near Faneuil Hall at 1:45 a.m.

O’Connor asked Zerola what he was doing and ordered him to stop, then tried to grab his hand as Zerola walked away, according to a police report. Zerola allegedly struck O’Connor on the shoulder and fled before being tackled by O’Connor and other officers a few blocks away.

Zerola was released on personal recognizance later Wednesday on charges including assault and battery on a police officer, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. He is scheduled to return to court on Aug. 7 for a pretrial hearing.

Zerola, who said he had attended the Celtics’ Game 6 win at the TD Banknorth Garden, denied the charges. He had two bandages on his knees and one on his right hand – injuries he said he received when he was arrested.

“I was trying to go home, that’s all,” he said. “It was one of the best nights of my life that ended with a thud.”

Zerola was one of 22 people arrested during postgame celebrations.

by Celtics fans. His arrest comes days after prosecutors in Florida dropped charges that he raped an 18-year-old woman at a Miami Beach hotel. Prosecutors said they had no DNA evidence against Zerola, and the victim had credibility problems because she lied about drug use and drinking and gave various versions of events to investigators.

Zerola also was acquitted earlier this year of rape and attempted rape in cases involving two other women in the Boston area.

“People that know me know I’m a man of character and integrity. I’m not perfect by any means,” Zerola said. “I want to get back to my life. I want to get back to practicing the law.”

In 2001, at age 29, Zerola was named one of People’s 50 most eligible bachelors.

AP-ES-06-18-08 1415EDT

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