Written by Associated Press
(AP) – California Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula was found not guilty Thursday of misdemeanor child cruelty, ending a trial that included testimony from most of his family, including the 7-year-old daughter he was accused of striking.
The verdict came after prosecutors alleged that Arambula had squeezed and struck the girl on the face while disciplining her in December and left a bruise on her temple from his wedding ring.
Arambula has said he spanked the girl but did not hit her face or know how she got the bruise.
An Assembly spokeswoman for Arambula did not immediately comment, nor did Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.
Arambula, a former emergency room doctor who represents Fresno, has been on leave from the Assembly during the case.
Arambula, his wife, mother and two of his three daughters testified during the case.
His attorneys painted the oldest daughter as an unreliable witness who wanted attention.
They said there were several ways the girl could have been bruised, including fighting with her sister or jumping on beds before Arambula grabbed and spanked her.
“There is no evidence to suggest that Dr. Arambula intentionally struck his child in the head,” attorney Michael Aed told jurors.
Prosecutor Steve Wright likened Arambula to “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” saying his public persona did not match his actions at home, where he could become angry and violent toward his three daughters.
Wright criticized the strategy of painting the girl as unreliable.
“I can’t understand throwing your daughter under the bus in order to protect your own reputation,” Wright said in his closing remarks.
In a statement to the media after the verdict was announced, Arambula thanked his family and jurors, saying the verdict renewed his faith in the justice system. He also asked the news media to respect the privacy of his family.