California Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula was found not guilty of misdemeanor child cruelty Thursday.
Authorities had accused him of striking his 7-year-old daughter on the face, leaving a bruise from his wedding ring.
Arambula (D-Fresno), a former emergency room doctor, has said he spanked his daughter for discipline in December but did not hit her face. His attorneys painted his daughter as an unreliable witness who wanted attention.
They said there were several ways the girl could have been bruised, including fighting with her sister or jumping on beds before Arambula grabbed and spanked her.
“There is no evidence to suggest that Dr. Arambula intentionally struck his child in the head,” attorney Michael Aed told jurors.
Arambula, his wife, mother and two of his three daughters testified during the case.
Prosecutor Steve Wright likened Arambula to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, saying his public persona did not match his actions at home, where he could become angry and violent toward his three daughters.
Wright criticized the defense attorneys’ strategy of painting the girl as unreliable.
“I can’t understand throwing your daughter under the bus in order to protect your own reputation,” Wright said in his closing remarks.
After the verdict, Arambula asked reporters to respect his family’s privacy, asking to “let today’s verdict be the end of this chapter.”
“It is time for me to do what I do best as a father: to sit and to play with my girls on the ground, to tuck them into bed at night, to read them a story and to let them know that their family loves them and will always love them,” he said.
The lawmaker has been on leave from the Assembly during the case. A spokeswoman in his office and one for Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) did not immediately respond to a request for comment.