Alleged victim mentioned possibility of accidental injury in Arambula child abuse case

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The heart of the misdemeanor child abuse trial against Fresno assembly member Joaquin Arambula is the word of his first child.

"He hit me in the cheek really hard like this and then he gave me that bruise," said his oldest daughter.

But Monday, jurors heard part of an interview where she mentioned another possibility for her injury.

She had a stuffed bunny named "Puppy" with her and mostly talked about the good times with her dad, but the prosecution also played an interview she gave with a child abuse specialist shortly after the December incident.

The 7-year-old girl knew exactly what her interview was about.

"I came to talk to you today because my dad gave me a bruise," she told the Multi-Disciplinary Interview Center's specialist.

She described the night she got that bruise, saying her sister was teasing her, so she threw the younger girl's toys on the ground.

When her dad came in the room, she said her sister claimed she threw something at the 6-year-old.

She said her dad didn't understand or didn't listen to her explanation.

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"I started screaming and then my dad hit me on the mouth," she said.

The alleged victim gave this interview after living away from her parents for a while, and she also said her dad made contact with her another time when he tripped on a toy in the room and may have hurt her accidentally.

"He fell face first on my bed and his hand was still on my face so then it pushed forward and it gave me that bruise," she said.

In her testimony at trial, the girl admitted to occasional jealousy of her younger sister and talked about what she was doing in several smiling photos with her father.

And in that December interview, she talked about not wanting to be separated from her parents.

"I wrote a letter to them," she said. "And it said 'Dear Mom and Dad, I really hope you guys aren't under too much pressure. I hope I can see you soon.'"

When the girl finished her testimony Monday, she walked right to her father and gave him a hug. He kissed her on the top of the head and one of his defense attorneys gave the girl a treat before she walked out of the courtroom.

Her testimony is done, but the trial could still last another 10 days or so.
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