Joaquin and Elizabeth Arambula are happy their children are back home.

They spent the first night reunited with their children reading. The next morning, they turned the lights on the Christmas tree.

The Arambulas’ three children, ages 7, 6 and 3, are back home, exiled for two days at the behest of child protective services.

The separation came after Fresno police arrested Assemblyman Arambula (D-Fresno) on suspicion of misdemeanor willful cruelty to a child.

Police say staff at Dailey Elementary Charter School on Monday (Dec. 10) noticed an injury to a student. They, in turn, notified CPS, which called police. After a short investigation, police arrested Arambula, processing him before issuing a citation and releasing him.

Police would not reveal the identity of the victim, the type of injury, nor the relationship to Arambula. However, in his interview with GV Wire (and other local media outlets), Arambula said it was his daughter.

Arambula says CPS’ return of his children is the right move.

“It is hard for me to believe (CPS) would have come to that conclusion if they thought there was a risk to them coming back into our home,” Arambula said.

Dyer Says Injury Was Not to Daughter’s Bottom

While Arambula insists it was just a spanking on his 7-year-old’s bottom, Chief Jerry Dyer said earlier in the week, that whatever the injury was, it warranted the arrest of the third-term lawmaker and further investigation.

When asked if it was a slap in the face or any other kind of physical discipline, Arambula answered: “No, sir.”

But Arambula’s answer was contradicted by Dyer on Thursday in interviews with other media outlets. Dyer told KSEE24 that the injury was elsewhere — not on the girl’s bottom,

Arambula defended his actions.

“I was there that night. And, I know what occurred. Because of that, all that occurred was us spanking her bottom. I’m looking forward to this process play out. I hope (investigators) will make the same conclusions that the (CPS) experts did earlier (in returning the Arambula children),” he said.

Arambula has a preliminary court date of March 13.

Disagrees with Arrest

“The people who are experts in this came to a different conclusion than what we saw. I’m just trying to work through this,” Arambula said.

Despite the arrest, the assemblyman thanked the teachers, CPS workers, and police for their role in the process.

“It can be hard to be a parent. We have to learn new tools. I am looking forward to learning how to better work with our daughters and be able to talk with them,” Arambula said.

Arambula defended his actions.

“I was there that night. And, I know what occurred. Because of that, all that occurred was us spanking her bottom. I’m looking forward to this process play out. I hope (investigators) will make the same conclusions that the (CPS) experts did earlier (in returning the Arambula children),” he said.

Arambula has a preliminary court date of March 13.

No Plans to Resign

Arambula gave no indication he would leave office over this incident.

“I plan to continue in that capacity (of serving) and represent as well. We have a lot of problems here. We need people willing to stand up to them, and I will do just that,” he said.

Hours after the news of his arrest, Fresno County Republican Party chairman Fred Vanderhoof called for Arambula’s resignation.

“Well, I always think there’s a bit of hypocrisy. …. Honestly, I don’t take much stock in it,” Arambula said.

The Fresno County Democratic Party is also on record defending Arambula, asking for due process to play out.

“The local Republican Party has called for Arambula’s resignation from the State Assembly. That is clearly premature and, unfortunately, duplicitous,” Democratic chairman Michael Evans said in a news release.

No Word from Leadership

Arambula would not say if Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) or other party leaders reached out him. But he did say he’s heard from colleagues.

“Many people within the Assembly reached out to voice support, to be able to say that they know us personally; that they’ve seen us as parents, they’ve seen me with my kids; and that they come to the same conclusion, that they know I’m a kind, gentle man who cares about his family and his daughters, and is doing the best he can as a parent.”

Arambula said he’s focused on putting his family back together, rather than worrying about potential consequences, such as losing committee assignments or facing suspension.

HIs Message to Constituents

Arambula’s message to constituents GV Wire on Vimeo.

Arambula hopes his constituents in the 31st District give him the benefit of the doubt.

“Don’t rush to conclusions. Look to who it is who you elected and put your trust into, “ Arambula said.

He vows to be out in public with his family: “Use your own two eyes. Look at the love I share with my family and my girls, and the fact that all of us are trying to raise and be good parents.”

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