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California Lawmaker Arrested for Child Cruelty After Spanking His Daughter

He claims it was "normal discipline."

CBS This Morning/YouTube

A California lawmaker was arrested Monday on suspicion of child cruelty for spanking his seven-year-old daughter. The arrest of State Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula occurred when school officials discovered an injury on the child after she reported the spanking to her teacher.

“It wasn’t the best night for all of us, and as a parent, I think most of us have felt those times when we can feel a bit overwhelmed. My daughter – in the midst of (her) acting out, I disciplined her as a consequence to something she did,” defended Arambula, who is also a board-certified physician and former emergency room doctor. He claims he spanked his oldest daughter on her bottom.

However, according to Fresno police chief Jerry Dyer, the injury found by Dailey Elementary Charter School officials was not on the girl’s buttocks. Authorities have not disclosed any further information about the injury which led to the lawmaker’s arrest for “willful cruelty to a child.”

While spanking is legal in the United States, it becomes a crime if considered excessive or abusive. It’s also a form of discipline frowned upon by the American Academy of Pediatrics, who released a statement earlier this year urging parents to stop spanking. Experts warn that it can lead to mental health issues and aggression later in life.

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Following Arambula’s arrest, his three daughters, who he has with wife Elizabeth, were temporarily removed by Child Protective Services but have since been returned. CPS will check in on the family, who will also be seeking therapy, for 30 days. If Arambula is found guilty of the misdemeanor, he will face up to a year in jail.

“Everyone who knows us in the community and has seen us in the community knows that I’m a loving father,” Arambula said. “I care about my daughters deeply… 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.”