- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 14, 2019

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - A California lawmaker charged with misdemeanor child cruelty has denied ever hitting his daughters.

But Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula testified Tuesday he spanked his 7-year-old daughter twice on the buttocks one evening in December, the Fresno Bee newspaper reports .

Prosecutors say Arambula squeezed and hit his daughter in the face out of anger, leaving a bruise on her temple from his wedding ring. Arambula was arrested after the girl told her teachers about the incident.

Arambula testified Tuesday he doesn’t know how his daughter’s face was bruised. He told jurors he was putting his three daughters to bed by himself because his wife was out of town. He said he had just left his daughters’ bedroom when he heard his middle daughter screaming.

Arambula said he went back to the room to investigate, finding his middle daughter saying she was hurt. Arambula said his oldest daughter denied hurting her sister. But he said his oldest daughter became upset and would not calm down. He said he caught her in midair as she jumped toward the foot of the bed.

“At some point she was still screaming, and I wanted to go check on (his middle daughter),” Arambula said. “For the first time in my life, I spanked (his eldest daughter) twice on the butt.”

In December, shortly after his arrest, Arambula told reporters he uses spanking as a last resort, doing it maybe once per year.

Arambula’s account contradicts testimony from the family’s therapist, who testified Monday the girl was clear she had not been spanked on that night.

The jury is scheduled to begin deliberations after closing arguments on Wednesday morning.

Arambula was an emergency room doctor before being elected to the state Legislature in 2016. He still holds a medical license, but is on leave from the Assembly. The Medical Board of California is looking into the case.


Information from: The Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com

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