Toronto Star

Jun. 29, 12:05 EDT

Comic's neighbours can't believe child-sex charges

Paula Poundstone posts bail on charges of commiting lewd acts on girl, 14

The Toronto Star

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) - Neighbors of stand-up comedian Paula Poundstone said Thursday they can't believe she committed any crimes against children.

Poundstone was always patient with her own adoptive and foster children and liked to throw parties for them and invite neighbourhood children, they said.

''This is a real shock,'' Laverne Hanell said.

''I've never seen anything that would make me think she was mean to kids. I've never seen her strike, slap or shove any of the kids and you would think you'd see something like that if the (allegations) were true.''

Poundstone, 41, was arrested and charged Wednesday with three counts of committing a lewd act on a girl under the age of 14 on May 19 and June 6, as well as endangering two other girls and two boys June 6, deputy district attorney Gina Satriano said.

Poundstone was released a few hours later after posting $200,000 bail. Her arraignment has been set for July 27 in Santa Monica Municipal Court. She could face a maximum of 13 years and four months in prison if convicted of all charges.

Santa Monica police Lieutenant Frank Fabrega declined Thursday to release further details about the case.

''It's an ongoing investigation,'' he said.

Satriano also declined comment.

Poundstone did not return to her Santa Monica home Thursday.

''I have faith that the truth is the right thing,'' was the only statement she made to reporters after leaving jail.

A single mother of four adopted children, Poundstone has regularly taken in foster children since 1993 through the Westside Children's Center.

David Brokaw, a producer and personal manager who has advised other celebrities facing crises, said the immediate effect of the charges on Poundstone's career is unclear.

''I would hope that people evaluate it with an eye toward what the truth is,'' he said.

If the charges are true, it could be devastating to her career, unless she takes significant steps to redeem herself and alter her behaviour, Brokaw said.

''Generally, the American public is pretty forgiving when people admit their faults and end up doing better,'' he said.

The brassy comic, known for her one-liners about politics and life in general, has been a frequent guest on late-night talk shows over the years and is a regular panelist on the syndicated game show To Tell the Truth.

Jennifer Price, a spokesperson for Pearson Television, which produces the show, said it was announced in May that Poundstone would not return for the show's second season.

The move was not connected to the current investigation, Price said.

The allegations would have a greater impact on Poundstone's career if she were acting as a commercial spokesperson, said to Pam McNeely, a senior vice-president at the advertising firm Dailey and Associates.

In that case, any advertising in which she appeared would have to be pulled immediately, McNeely said.

''But she's not an 'A' list celebrity and she's a comedian,'' McNeely said.

''There's some kind of latitude that people seem to give comedians ... It would be different if she was Barbara Walters.''

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