Arroyo Grande councilman stays quiet at meeting about charges

Tribune photo by David Middlecamp

The Arroyo Grande city councilman accused of attacking a woman he allegedly blamed for the breakup of his marriage attended the City Council meeting Tuesday night — but he made no comment about the suspected crime.

Ed Arnold did release a statement through his attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, saying that it has been distressing to have embarrassing, distorted and false accusations made about his “marriage and its dissolution aired in a public way.”

“I believe it will become clear that the divorce and criminal charges are intermingled, and that my wife is attempting to use the criminal system and my public humiliation to enhance her position in disputes over child custody and related financial interests in the divorce proceedings,” Arnold said.

At the meeting, two members of the public spoke to the allegations against Arnold — including one man who asked whether Arnold’s private matters would distract him from his work on the council.

Arnold said in his statement that he can assure the people of Arroyo Grande that he’ll serve them professionally and honestly.

“I will never let my private life adversely impact my responsibilities and duties as a councilman,” he said.The meeting came as a police report made public Tuesday laid out more details about the night of Dec. 15, which Arnold acknowledged to police was “emotionally charged.”

The 18-page report redacted the names of those involved that night so as not to identify the alleged victim or other witnesses associated with the police investigation.

Statements made to police by the alleged victim, Arnold’s wife and a friend of Arnold’s who was at the residence the night of the alleged assault indicate that Arnold attacked the woman, according to the report.

But Arnold told police that he went to the residence to talk to the woman after a therapy session, believing she was the root of his marital problems, and went inside the victim’s open room before she yelled at him and hit him, and then he tackled her, the report states.

The alleged victim claimed that she left her room in a detached garage to brush her teeth in the main house, on the 800 block of Turquoise Drive.

She didn’t lock the door to the garage unit, and when she returned about 10 p.m., she was repeatedly hit over the head with a club by a man she identified as Arnold, she told police.

Police described the alleged victim’s injuries as a bloody nose, swollen forehead and “abraded scalp and left elbow.” She was treated at a local hospital the night of the attack and released, police said.

The alleged victim as well as Arnold’s wife, Kathryn, said that they had all been living together with Arnold and had been romantically involved from July 2009 until a couple of weeks before the alleged attack, when the alleged victim moved out.

Kathryn Arnold is not named in the report. She is identified only as Arnold’s “wife.” She filed for divorce Dec. 7.

Police stated that during the altercation the alleged victim tried secretly to call 911 by using a cell phone in her pocket but hit a button that called Kathryn Arnold. The alleged victim accused the councilman of saying he was going to kill her during the attack.

Arnold’s wife contacted friends, a man and his wife who resided in the house on the same property where the alleged victim lived.

The man told police that he found Arnold in the garage, where the victim was dressed in black clothing, and Arnold told him that he had “snapped.”

“He then asked Edward if he had struck (the alleged victim) and said Edward answered ‘Yes,’ ” the report stated.The alleged victim and Arnold’s male friend said that Arnold left the residence with a black duffel bag, metal club and what they believed to be zip-ties.

Police haven’t found these items, according to the report.

Arnold told police that he “didn’t remember” having a bag, a club or zip-ties, according to the report.“According to Arnold, the victim started yelling at him and hitting him,” the report states. “They struggled and Arnold told us, no less than two times, that he ‘tackled her.’ ”

Arnold became aware that she’d gotten hurt and offered her the opportunity to call police, the report states.

The councilman denied ever saying he was going to kill the woman as he was struggling with her and denied hitting her with an object, according to the report. Court documents have alleged that Arnold said he would kill the city employee and that he blamed her for the breakup of his marriage.

“Arnold suggested the victim inflicted the injuries on herself,” the report states.