Arroyo Grande Councilman Ed Arnold pleads not guilty to charges

Arroyo Grande City Councilman, Ed Arnold Jr., appears in court to face  multiple felony charges. photo Jayson Mellom 1-25-10
Arroyo Grande City Councilman, Ed Arnold Jr., appears in court to face multiple felony charges. photo Jayson Mellom 1-25-10 The Tribune

The attorney representing Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold, who is suspected of violently attacking a woman in December, said Monday that he “doesn’t believe a word” of the accusations.

Arnold, 45, appeared Monday with his new lawyer, Ilan Funke-Bilu, and pleaded not guilty to five felony charges during his arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Funke-Bilu, a San Luis Obispo attorney, also said that his client plans to remain on the council and “continue to represent the people of Arroyo Grande.”

He said Arnold will attend tonight’s scheduled council meeting. Outside of court, Funke-Bilu said that Arnold is “a good man” and that the allegations aren’t credible.

“My client is not guilty of any of the charges,” Funke-Bilu said. “I don’t believe a word that this confidential complaining witness says.”

Police arrested Arnold on suspicion of beating the 28-year-old woman with a metal club on the night of Dec. 15 after burglarizing her home on the 800 block of Turquoise Drive in Arroyo Grande.

The woman alleged in a request for a temporary restraining order that Arnold blamed her for the breakup of his marriage, and she noted that she lived with him and his wife, Kathryn, during part of 2009.

The District Attorney’s Office generally doesn’t comment on the facts of pending cases, spokesman Jerret Gran said.

“But the facts of the case and the credibility of the victim will be shown in future court hearings,” Gran said.

The woman — who is not being identified by The Tribune because she’s the alleged victim of domestic violence — called Kathryn Arnold her “girlfriend” in the court document.

Temporary restraining orders have been granted in favor of the woman and Kathryn Arnold until a further hearing Feb. 18. At issue at the hearing will be whether to extend the orders.

If the orders are continued, specific lengths of time they’d remain in effect would be set by the judge.

Arnold’s lawyer said that his client has felt “extraordinary consternation” regarding the effect of the case on his children.

Arnold has a 13-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old son. Arnold’s wife filed for divorce Dec. 7.

“He is saddened by what has happened with his marriage,” Funke-Bilu said. “He loves his kids. That’s what’s driving him.”

Arnold appeared in court wearing a brown sports coat with a pattern of thin, black striped lines and a yellow tie. It was his first public appearance since the arrest.

Arnold hasn’t spoken publicly about the allegations and declined a reporter’s request for comment.

During his arraignment, in response to a question from Judge Barry LaBarbera, Arnold said he understood that any type of contact with the alleged victim would be a crime while the case is pending.

The charges filed by Deputy District Attorney Greg Devitt against Arnold include assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence, burglary, making criminal threats and illegal possession of a semi-automatic handgun.

Funke-Bilu said that his client is a “popular” man in Arroyo Grande and that he doesn’t believe the allegations will hurt Arnold’s reputation.

Arnold is scheduled to appear in LaBarbera’s court March 3 for a pre-preliminary hearing, which is held to determine whether the case is ready for a preliminary hearing.

Some of the prosecution’s evidence is presented during a preliminary hearing, and a judge will decide whether sufficient evidence has been presented to proceed to trial.