Comedian Paula Poundstone pleaded not guilty in a Santa Monica, Calif., courtroom today to child abuse charges.
The 41-year-old entertainer was charged with three counts of lewd acts upon a child under 14, and one count of child endangerment on four other children.
"Not guilty, your honor," Poundstone said quietly when asked how she wished to plead.
Lewd acts are defined as touching for sexual purposes. All four counts are felonies.
Poundstone was ordered to stay away from minors unless they were accompanied by a parent or guardian, as is common in cases involving allegations of child molestation. The court documents were ordered sealed and a preliminary hearing was set for July 30.
A Show of Support
Poundstone said little as she entered the courthouse with her lawyer, but she was moved to tears by the group of supporters waiting for her.
She spoke individually with several in the group of about 12, and hugged some.
When a reporter shouted a question, asking how Poundstone felt about fact that her fans had come out and waited 45 minutes, she answered with a quiet joke: "This is not the first time I've been late."
Her lawyer, Steven Cron, said the entertainer had heard from scores of fans offering their support.
"My office has been inundated with letters, e-mail, faxes from all over," he said.
Cron reiterated his client's innocence on the charges of lewd conduct upon a girl under the age of 14, and endangerment of four other children, and he said Poundstone was eager to clear her name.
Poundstone was arrested last Wednesday and released on $200,000 bail. If convicted, she would face up to 13 years, four months in prison.
She has three adopted children and four foster children, all of whom are currently in the care of county authorities.