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Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula Found Not Guilty of Misdemeanor Child Abuse Charge

Monica Velez
Valley Public Radio
Fresno Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula

Fresno Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula was found not guilty Thursday of a misdemeanor child abuse charge. The jury, made up of six men and six women, deliberated for less than seven hours.


The Democrat’s family clapped and cheered in the crowded courtroom after the verdict was read.


Prosecutor Steve Wright told reporters he was disappointed with the verdict, but he understands the jury’s decision.


"I think it shows to anybody, again, it doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living, if you abuse a child we’re going to do what we can to protect that child and hold that person accountable and to make sure it never happens again,” Wright said.


One of Arambula’s attorneys, Michael Aed, told reporters the charges should have never been filed and if it was any other person the trial wouldn’t have happened. Arambula’s other attorney, Margarita Martinez-Bailey, said she does believe the decision to file charges was politically motivated.


But Wright denied that, and said the evidence in the case supported going to trial.  


“I think that if they make that comment they should have had to sit through the evidence and hear what that evidence was,” Wright said.


In a press conference, Arambula said the jury restored  his faith in the criminal justice system, but he knows there are still a lot of issues with it.


“We need to ensure that the scales of justice are balanced,” he said. “You can be sure that I’ll be working on that in the state legislature.”


Arambula said he’ll return to work on Monday. He described the trial as “horrid” and a “nightmare” and maintains he never hit or slapped his daughter. His family members consistently showed up to court throughout the trial, and he thanked them for that.


“You have been my rock and my foundation through these difficult times," Arambula said. "I want to apologize to each of you that we had to go through this but now we are here and on the other side.”


Arambula also asked the media to respect the privacy of his family.  

“My children have been the subject of a spotlight, but they are children and deserve to grow up in peace and to play like normal kids," Arambula said. "Please let today’s verdict be the end of this chapter.”


Even though the verdict came back as not guilty, Aed said Arambula will always have a “Scarlet Letter” on his back. There are still going to be some people who look at him differently because of how he was portrayed during the trial, he said.


“His reputation’s in the toilet, right? It doesn’t matter what the verdict was in this case,” Aed said. “He has to live with this for the rest of his life regardless of what the outcome was.”

Monica Velez was a reporter at Valley Public Radio. She started out as a print reporter covering health issues in Merced County at the Merced Sun-Star.