June 28, 2001 -- Comedian Paula Poundstone was arrested Wednesday and charged with multiple counts of lewd conduct upon a child and child endangerment, California authorities said.
Poundstone, 41, was charged with three counts of committing a lewd and lascivious act on a girl under the age of 14 on May 19 and June 6, said Santa Monica District Attormey Gina Satriano. The comedian was also charged with child endangerment for an incident involving two other girls and two boys, also on June 6.
Santa Monica police Lt. Frank Fabrega refused to say how Poundstone knew the children involved in her arrest. Poundstone's arrest, he said, came after a "long investigation."
Attorney: Poundstone Had Been Cooperating
Her attorney said they had been aware of the investigation and had been cooperating with police, and bristled at news of the arrest.
"We are shocked that she was arrested," Steven Cron said. "They know where Paula has been and there was certainly no reason for them to go out and arrest her. We've tried to be as cooperative as possible."
In a statement released later today, Cron said, "The district attorney's office has not yet revealed to us any of the details of the allegations against Paula. Nonetheless we are confident she has done nothing wrong."
In a statement Wednesday, her publicist also insisted Poundstone is innocent.
"I know Paula Poundstone well enough to know these charges are 100 percent incorrect," said Bonnie Burns. "She has been an incredible parent, she's made huge sacrifices to see that children who weren't dealt the best cards in life were well taken care of and she's always shown herself to be completely honorable and full of integrity. I believe when the truth comes out, you'll see these charges are unsubstantiated and without merit."
Free After Posting $200K Bond
Poundstone, who was released after posting a $200,000 bond, spoke briefly to reporters as she left the jail.
"I have faith that the truth is the right thing," she said. Asked if she had received special treatment in the jail, she answered: "I don't know I've never been in there before."
She also had a message for her fans: "Thank you."
Today, the Santa Monica District Attorney's office announced Poundstone would be arraigned July 27. If convicted, she could face up to 13 years and four months in prison.
Neighbor: Poundstone Cared for Troubled Kids
At least one of her neighbors said he believed the comedian was innocent — and feared her arrest would detract from all the work she's done with foster children.
"It didn't happen," the neighbor said. "It absolutely did not happen."
He said Paula helped disadvantaged children, children no one else wanted, and deserved a lot of credit for her work.
"All of Paula's good work, all of these children she's taking care of that no one else wants, everything that she's done for people seems to just be going by the wayside and it's very unfortunate," he said.
Comedian Also Known as Mom
The comic, known for her one-liners about politics and life in general, started her career 21 years ago and has been a frequent guest on late-night talk shows and is a regular panelist on To Tell the Truth, a syndicated game show.
Known for wearing neckties and baggy suits, she starred in the cartoon television series called Home Movies and won an American Comedy Award in 1989 as the nation's best female stand-up comic. She also had a short-lived sitcom on ABC called The Paula Poundstone Show.
Poundstone has also been known for a different role — foster mom. Since becoming a foster parent in 1993, she has reportedly cared for eight children, adopting three of them and currently serving as a foster parent for two. In an interview with The Christian Science Monitor this year, she said being a mom was her favorite role and indicated that she became involved in foster parenting because she was a foster child herself.
"No one would describe my childhood as love-filled," she told the newspaper. "I was in a residential program, and in my teens some good folks in Massachusetts took me into their home. They already had seven kids of their own, and their small duplex had only one-and-a-half baths, but we really bonded. Today, one of their daughters, Renee, is a dear friend." ABCNEWS' Bryan Robinson and ABC affiliate KABC in Los Angeles contributed to this report.