SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A state lawmaker took a temporary leave of absence on Tuesday while disputing a misdemeanor charge of cruelty to his young daughter as “false and unthinkable.”
Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula acted hours after Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp announced that he is charged with inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a child.
“My wife and I are shocked that the district attorney has decided to file charges. The allegation that I may have harmed one of my daughters is false and unthinkable,” the Fresno Democrat said in a statement.
“While politics may have influenced the decision to file, we are confident that our judicial system will find this allegation to be false. However, I have voluntarily taken a temporary leave of absence from the Assembly and have directed my attorney to request a speedy trial so this issue can be resolved as quickly as possible.”
The maximum sentence is six months in jail.
“Any claim that the decision to file charges is politically motivated is absolutely 100% not correct,” Assistant District Attorney Steve Wright responded. “We base our filing decisions on the law and evidence collected during the investigation.”
Arambula, 41, was arrested and soon released in December after officials at Dailey Elementary Charter School learned of an injury on his 7-year-old daughter and reported it to child protective services.
His three daughters, ages three, six and seven, stayed with his parents for two nights but were then allowed to return home to Arambula and his wife, Elizabeth.