- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 4, 2001

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Comedian Paula Poundstone pleaded not guilty yesterday to four unspecified charges of child endangerment and molestation at her home near Los Angeles, but was ordered to stay away from her two adopted and three foster children.
Two protective orders sought by prosecutors and issued by Superior Court Commissioner Roberta Kyman prevent Miss Poundstone from having any physical or telephone contact for at least six weeks with any of the children who had been in her care. She was prohibited from coming within 500 yards of those children and ordered not to be in the presence of any other minor without the child's guardian or an independent observer being "visibly and physically present."
The orders also demand that Miss Poundstone not "stalk, threaten, harass, have sexual contact with or try to prevent" any of the five children named from testifying against her.
All official documents in the case were sealed, including arrest reports and the names of the children involved in the protective orders.
The actions came during an arraignment that was moved up three weeks from its originally scheduled date at the request of Miss Poundstone's attorney, Steven Cron.
Mr. Cron said, "Paula is eager to get the proceedings going so she can have her day in court and restore her reputation."
He added that moving the case up would speed the discovery process and allow him and Miss Poundstone to learn for the first time the details of the charges against her.
The proceeding drew a capacity audience, mostly supporters of Miss Poundstone. The comedian, featured on the PBS children's program "Storytime" and a regular panelist on the syndicated game show "To Tell the Truth," hugged and kissed about 75 fans on her way into the courthouse.
Deputy District Attorney Gina Satriano said she sought the protective orders to "prevent irreparable harm" to the children named.
Mr. Cron said only that Santa Monica police investigated the case about one week before arresting Miss Poundstone June 27.
He said neither he nor Miss Poundstone was informed in advance of the prosecution request for protective orders.
"I was shocked," he said. "These orders were not necessary. This is ripping her guts out. She loves children and I can't begin to tell you how upset she is. In many ways, she's a big kid. She loves to laugh with them."

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