SACRAMENTO (AP) — A Fresno lawmaker arrested on suspicion of child cruelty said Wednesday the allegation stemmed from spanking his 7-year-old daughter.
Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula said he spanked his daughter Sunday night and it’s a punishment tool he rarely uses, the Fresno Bee newspaper reported. He said he has no plans to resign.
“Everyone who knows us in the community and has seen us in the community knows that I’m a loving father,” Arambula said while standing next to his wife, Elizabeth. “I care about my daughters deeply. And I’m just going through a process and trying the best I can to be a husband and father who’s putting us back together again.”
Arambula is a former emergency room doctor who was elected in 2016 to represents parts of Fresno County. He has three daughters, ages 3, 6 and 7.
He was arrested Monday after officials at Dailey Elementary Charter School reported a child with an injury, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said.
Arambula said he believes his daughter went to school angry and told a teacher about what had happened. He thanked the school, child protective services and the police for doing their jobs.
Arambula was released shortly after his arrest and has not been formally charged. His daughters stayed with his parents for two nights until child protective services said they could go back home Wednesday, the newspaper reported.
“There’s a process to be played out, and this process played out, and they determined that the kids should go back home,” Arambula said. “I’m excited about that. But we have a job and a responsibility to continue to be good parents, and that’s what I want to work on and will strive to do.”
Authorities will check in on the Arambulas in 30 days and suggested the family seek therapy, he said.
Arambula’s arrest was for a misdemeanor not a felony because the injury did not require medical attention, Dyer said, according to the Bee. Spanking a child is generally legal if it’s in a fleshy area such as the buttocks but not if it’s in a place likely to cause injury like the face, he said.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon hasn’t commented on the arrest.