Fresno Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula admits harshest ever discipline, denies abuse

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula says he only used physical discipline on his daughter one time - the night before police arrested him for misdemeanor child abuse.

No slapping, no punching, no kicking, no nothing, except for two spanks on the bottom. Not even squeezing, he said, although he described something the girl might call squeezing.

"I caught her," he said. "And I held her like you would a child. I held her in my arms as you would a young child."

Dr. Arambula admitted to going farther than ever before with his discipline on the night in question, but denied causing the injury that led to his arrest the next day.

Taking the witness stand made him a little nervous, but Dr. Arambula said this is where he wanted to be all along. He said this was the only way to get "sunshine and transparency" in the case.

Dr. Arambula said he had some trouble getting his two oldest daughters to sleep that night in December, and shortly after he left their room, the younger one started screaming.

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He went to see what was happening and could only see the older girl, who was screaming and trying to get away.

"She jumped off the bed," he said. "She jumped. And I was scared. Something about the way she jumped and the direction in which she was jumping, I was worried about where she was going to land."

He said he wrapped her up in a hug and held pinned her elbows so she couldn't flail around and cause damage. But he says the 7-year-old wouldn't stop screaming.

"For the first time in my life, I grabbed my daughter and I spanked her twice on her butt," he said.

Dr. Arambula says he slept next to the girl that night, and the first thing she told him the next morning was she was still mad at him.

At school that day, the girl had a one-inch bruise near her right temple.

She told teachers, office staff, a CPS worker, and a police officer her father had smacked her on both sides of the face, and his ring had left the mark.

Arambula acknowledged hitting kids in the face would be dangerous, but denied ever doing it.

"Isn't it true that you went into your daughters' room and struck (the alleged victim) in the side of the head?" asked prosecutor Steve Wright.

"Absolutely not," Dr. Arambula said. "I can't say that any more strongly."

Those were the last words the jury heard. Attorneys will give closing arguments Wednesday morning and then the jury will decide Arambula's fate.
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