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Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold may face child porn charges

Prosecutors have filed the paperwork to bring two new charges against Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold for allegations involving child pornography.

Investigators allegedly found pictures of naked underage girls, and a video showing a teenage foreign-exchange student from Spain showering.

Both the images and the video were discovered on a personal computer investigators found in Arnold’s Pismo Beach home, according to the court filing by the District Attorney’s Office.

Investigators executed a search warrant Jan. 4 and found “several still images” of naked young girls, the document states.

Law enforcement officials consulted with a San Luis Obispo pediatrician to determine the girls’ approximate ages, according to prosecutors.

“In the opinion of that doctor, the naked girls were under the age of 18 years old,” prosecutors said.

In the same search, police also allegedly found a video of a naked girl showering, which they said was taken with a camera hidden in the ceiling.

“Acting on a tip, law enforcement learned that the girl in the video was a foreign-exchange student who stayed at (Arnold’s) home in Arroyo Grande during the summer of 2005,” according to the document. “A law enforcement official contacted that girl, confirmed she was in the video and learned that the girl was 16 years old at the time she stayed (at the home).”

Prosecutors filed a motion to add the new charges, and Judge Barry T. LaBarbera could decide whether to grant the motion at a hearing scheduled for Wednesday.

Arnold could face felony charges of possession of child pornography and using a minor for pornographic images.

In January, Arnold pleaded not guilty to five felony charges, including assault with a deadly weapon and domestic violence, for his alleged role in a Dec. 15 attack on a woman.

Arnold’s attorney, Ilan Funke-Bilu, said Monday that he hadn’t spoken with his client about the specifics of the new allegations.

Funke-Bilu maintains Arnold’s innocence on all charges and said that he planned to enter a not guilty plea Wednesday.

Arnold is scheduled for a pre-preliminary court hearing Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. as well as the motion later that morning.

Arnold, 45, hasn’t spoken publicly about allegations that he attacked a 28-year-old woman with a metal club after he burglarized her home in Arroyo Grande.

He has continued to serve on the Arroyo Grande City Council, which doesn’t have the authority to remove him unless he is recalled, misses repeated meetings or resigns, according to officials. Arnold said in a statement in January that he won’t let his private life affect his ability to serve Arroyo Grande professionally and honestly.

According to court documents, Arnold, the woman and Arnold’s wife were involved in a love triangle. The alleged victim said in court documents that Arnold blamed her for the breakup of his marriage.

In his statement, Arnold said 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.

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