Councilman Ed Arnold charged with child pornography

April 12, 2010


Arroyo Grande police discovered a video of an underage foreign exchange student and photos of what appear to be underage girls during a search of Arroyo Grande City Councilman Ed Arnold’s Pismo Beach residence on Jan. 4, police said.

Police suspect Arnold used a hidden camera during the summer of 2005 to video the then 16-year-old while she showered. The woman, from Spain, confirmed she is the subject of the video.

On April 9, Arnold was charged with creating pornography and possession of child pornography.

Arnold pleaded not guilty in January to five felony charges including burglary and domestic violence from an incident back in December of last year.

Arroyo Grande Chief Steven Annibali said the child pornography was discovered while search warrants were being served as part of the domestic violence investigation.

On Friday afternoon, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney filed a motion to have the two pornography charges added to the domestic violence charges.

A hearing has been set for Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Barry LaBarbera to determine if the charges will be added to the original case or prosecuted separately.



  1. willie says:

    “Just playing devil’s advocate, as is my nature:”

    You need NOT explain yourself, I am one who appreciate collective wisdom.
    It comes from The Book of Proverb “seek council among many”

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  2. willie says:

    What made this a mystery to me was Arnold’s age and position playing out his fantasy via peeping tom.
    I once read something that suggested a corollary (but more in a severe level than Arnold’s case) and applied it to Arnold’s peeping tom/ fantasy leading to his “alleged” burglary/ assault.
    “I am by no means implying that every Peeping Tom (or even most) ends up as a serial killer. But I am saying that if you study the most violent of sexual predators, as we have, you will find in virtually all cases an escalation from relatively innocent beginnings”.
    “But remember, we said the fantasy always precedes the predatory act.”
    From “The Anatomy of Motive” John Douglas (FBI Profiler) Page 37, 41.

    Arnold has not step down which is an innocent/ defense posture.
    Arnold has not been removed, I am guessing his peers believe he is innocent.
    They are rolling the dice.
    If he is found guilty while still in his official position, it will reflect badly on all of them.
    If found innocent while still holding his position, then it’s a feather in everybody’s cap.
    There is something wrong in all this, if he is found guilty then it may suggest he has a great ability to manipulate others (besides being a politician).
    I think an administrative leave or a voluntary leave would be more appropriate (and he know that!) and he has NOT done either!

    (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
    • Cindy says:

      Wilie, Are you aware that Arnold is an elected city councilman and his peers don’t have the authority to make him step down? It’s very difficult to remove an elected official particularly when they haven’t been found guilty YET.
      Also I’m not sure if you were following the story when he first got himself into trouble. He beat up his wife’s girlfriend because he said that she destroyed his marriage. I don’t know if this fits the profile that you are taking a stab at but profiling is a fascinating science.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  3. Saveslocounty says:

    The world of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold has been destroyed along with the lives of many friends and family members. Unfortunately, the recovery will be much more difficult for the Arnold’s then Tiger Woods. Hiding a camera is not normal behavior and shows a deep seated problem, regardless of the victims age. In this case, he surely knew she was 16 and that his actions were illegal on several counts. Protecting minors from exploitation is what the law is trying to do and has little to do with how old the victims appear. In this case, they apparently confirmed the age of the victim by locating her and asking. Doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.

    Since Mr. Arnold moved to Pismo, it is actually illegal for him to remain in his City Council seat. How about taking that issue on so we can at least shield the community interest from this sullied affair? I would think Mr. Arnold has enough issues that would distract him from acting in our best interest.

    (6) 8 Total Votes - 7 up - 1 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      Good point regarding his living in Pismo. Because of that he should have already stepped down. The rest of the council has a good legit reason to boot him without having to wait through a trial that will be full of smut and scandal.

      (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
      • Saveslocounty says:

        Here is what a google search unveils about Mr. Arnold’s situation with the ciity. The City Council can shortcut this process by deeming Mr. Arnold’s seat vacant based on his residence relocation to Pismo Beach. That would severe the connection with the city and save the money necessary to hold a recall election. The council could then fill the vacancy as in any other loss of a council member and get back to business.

        California Government Code Section 1770
        An office becomes vacant on the happening of any of the
        following events before the expiration of the term:
        (e) His or her ceasing to be an inhabitant of the state, or if the
        office be local and one for which local residence is required by
        law, of the district, county, or city for which the officer was
        chosen or appointed, or within which the duties of his or her office
        are required to be discharged.

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
    • willie says:

      If I appear a monster against Arnold, I apologize. It is normal for a person like me who read a lot, no different than a doctor being manipulated by other doctors paid and working for a pharmaceutical corporation.
      Mr. Arnold has children, and I without a doubt believe he loves and cares for them and would not do anything to hurt or harm them unless he was screwed up. Myself being a dad, in my clear mind would give my life before I allow my child to be harmed by the action of others or my own.
      Mr. Arnold needs serious help and good for all in the early stages.
      God help us all in this bazaar and weird time.

      (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  4. disillusioned says:

    Very sad.

    (12) 12 Total Votes - 12 up - 0 down
  5. willie says:

    As an older person
    I can see a man his age get excited over an “adult” woman
    I do not know everything there is to know but without being too bias, maybe someone can explain without being too perturbed.
    I don’t understand what it is that a man of his age sexually sees in a child unless it is related to art.
    Next I don’t understand how a man his age can engage in a juvenile act of using a hidden camera to video a child taking a shower unless he is practicing being a private eye, or using it as blackmail for sex or money, or simple being a pervert.
    The nation has been getting a lot of weird political officials across the board.

    (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
    • JurisDoctor78 says:

      Just playing devil’s advocate, as is my nature:

      First, let me qualify what I am about to propose by stating that this was an obvious invasion of privacy.

      However, I know AGPD alleges the pictures depict girls who appear to be underage, but we must remember that AGPD’s job is to build a case against subjects of their search warrants and none of us (I presume) have seen these pictures or the video(s).

      Do all 16 year-olds look like “children?” In my opinion, not all do. Some look much older. Do all 18 year-olds look like adults? In my opinion, not all do. Some look much younger. But our laws presume as much. Possession of sexually explicit images of an 18 year-old who looks as mature as a 16 year old are perfectly legal. However, sexually explicit images of a 16 year-old who looks as mature as an 18 year-old are illegal. How do we feel about this blind standard?

      Again, I don’t know what the subjects in these pictures or videos looked like. I just think it’s something we should consider before we judge.

      (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
      • Cindy says:

        Juris – I have to agree with you. First I am wondering how they got a search warrant and what they got the search warrant for. I suspect they were looking for the duffel bag that the victim claimed Arnold placed a pipe in ( that he struck her with) and some plastic pull tie style hand cuffs etc. I always thought that a search warrant had to be clear about what they were looking for and certainly he didn’t hide a duffel bag in his computer. I can only assume that somebody had to have accused him of pornography and even then I’m curious because if I accuse someone I don’t like of pornography can their home be invaded based on my bias word ? I to am only playing devils advocate here.
        Regarding the video, the woman in the video has been identified and confirmed as being 16 years old at the time it was recorded. I agree that the pictures are an enigma at present. Unless they are prepubescent (which they are not) then it’s a blind standard for LE to insinuate that they look 16 or 17 rather than 18.

        (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down
        • Typoqueen says:

          I don’t know how they got the search warrant but I wouldn’t be surprised if his wife had something to do with it. I don’t know if that’s enough but I would think that a spouse’s word would be enough to get a search warrant. If that’s the case though that would indicate that his wife would have some guilt in this as well.

          (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
        • JurisDoctor78 says:

          Perhaps, there was some evidence of child pornography found somewhere during the course of looking for the weapon. It would be legal to, at that point, expand the search to include child pornography.

          (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
          • Cindy says:

            I follow what your saying but in this instance they would not have known at that time if they found evidence of child pornography. All they would have had is some photo’s that might or might not be an 18 year old. Seems that they would have had to confirm that before they expanded the search (assuming you are correct). If the photo’s were in his computer then they would not have had those either, so again I have to wonder how they gained rights to look through his computer and his video’s? For those of you who are reactionary and are quick to damn the person who questions, remember that this has nothing to do with my opinion of Arnold, his actions or the fact that he got caught. I’m pleased he was caught. My question is a legal question. What was the cause that gave the police the right to search through all of a persons personal effects when this was about him beating a woman up? Think about what it would be like to be an innocent person and have your home invaded and all your private belongings scrutinized, this would include your underwear draws, your private journals, your dirty laundry in the hamper, your photos and honeymoon pictures, your private videos in the hot tub with your spouse. Where is the line that crosses one’s right to privacy, and can someone who simply wants to cause another person great discomfort cause that line to be crossed ,that is the question my post is based on.

            (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        The pictures are of a teen that stayed with them, I don’t know if I should say details but the PD know that she was 16 and they know who she is. Also his young teen children also showered in this same bathroom that had a hidden camera. His children probably also had friends that used that bathroom.

        (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
        • MAD HATTER says:

          Hidden camera or not. No excuse. There is prob more to all of this. The more that is released, the sicker it is getting. This guy needs to do the right thing and step down. Just the thought that this guy was shooting kids in the shower is sick. You can’t come up with any good reason for this being done. You mize as well say, hey I’m taking pictures for my art class at Pirates Cove. Come on folks, don’t try and justify this idiot. Now he’s a pervert. Can’t get any worse.

          (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
          • Cindy says:

            Mad Hatter, No one is justifying or making excuses for this mans actions. It goes without saying that the video in the shower has implications way beyond just the age of the victim or victims? I also have the same thoughts Typo brought up about his children and their friends also using the shower. I hate to think of that and I also have to wonder what the wife knew and when she knew it.
            I also agree that there will be a lot more coming out, I believe they will be in court on Wednesday and it will be quite a spectacle, no doubt.
            The fact that some of us examine or banter about legal issues, search warrants or determining the age of a suggested victim has nothing to do with our opinion of his actions. Do you realize that there were 3 adults in that household who all apparently had a sexual preference or at least equal sexual preference to woman? Could make for an interesting trial and defense, couldn’t it?

            (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
      • BeenThereDoneThat says:

        Juris. O.k. playing devils advocate as you say. How about I come over to your house and film your sixteen year old daughter nude? I mean comon on you shouldn’t have a problem with that? Right?

        (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
        • Cindy says:

          BTDT, why are you getting on Juris, do you think he is trying to say that Arnold may not have known the age of the victim? I haven’t interpreted his post to mean that at all. I think he brings up some interesting points from a legal standpoint.
          I think what bothers me most about all this is thinking about how his poor daughter must feel. If she had friends that stayed over for slumber parties it’s all the worse. I can just imagine all the questions the poor girl is having to deflect. I doubt that he taped his daughter or her friends and would never say that I think he did. I’m sure there will be many accusations, they make movies about hidden video cameras in bathroom ceilings and it’s usually a nightmare.
          TYPO – It sounds like your saying the video and the pictures are all of the same girl, is that correct?

          (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
          • BeenThereDoneThat says:

            Cindy RELAX!!! You totally missed my point. Juris was arguring a counter point of what is the big deal. I was trying to point out that to some of us it is a BIGGER deal when it is one of our own.

            Never stated or implyed the point on Arnold’s daughters. Was making the point if it was Juris’s daughter-s how would he feel? It is easy to be caveler when it is someone elses kid (foreign exchange student) being filmed.

            And on the subject of a BIG deal. To both you and Juris. Yes there are a lot of sixteen year olds out their with the bodie of women but MOST still have the immature brain of a child. Thinking back to your own life, were you very mature mentally at sixteen?? We all thought we were mature at 16. Then looked back 10 to 15 years later and realised we didn’t have a f**king clue.

            (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
        • JurisDoctor78 says:

          How did you know I have a 16 year-old daughter? Do I know you?

          All kidding aside, I didn’t mean to give the impression that I have concluded this guy had done nothing wrong. I just know, from professional experience, that the way things get reported in the news and the way things actually occurred can be two entirely different things. I just think we need to remember that, unless we know all of the facts (and we don’t), we should probably not take such strong positions one way or the other.

          (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
          • JurisDoctor78 says:

            Our child pornography laws are designed to protect children because it is assumed that people under the age of 18 are vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation in ways that people 18 and older are not. A law professor of mine once told me, “According to the law, at 11:59 p.m. on the night before your 18th birthday, you have no brain and your head is filled with mush. However, one minute later, a perfect brain instantly forms.”

            I question this standard. I think its lazy and it denies the fact that humans have evolved to have sex at a much earlier age than society allows.

            Also, not all people develop at the same pace. Some 16 year-olds are better equipped to deal with sex than some 20 year-olds. I think a lot of 16 year-olds are emotionally and physically equipped to deal with sex properly. I know I was and so were a lot of my friends. I’m sure a lot of you would feel that you and a lot of your friends were capable of putting sex in it’s properly context at that age. The law does not reflect as much.

            This is to say nothing about acts performed without the consent of both parties, of course.

            Sorry, this is way off topic.

            (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
      • willie says:

        Posted on 04/13/2010 at 11:10 am
        “Just playing devil’s advocate, as is my nature:”

        Don’t mind at all, I like it!

        (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
  6. dayndayout says:


    (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
  7. Typoqueen says:

    This guy has too much drama in his life, he needs to resign from the council.

    (14) 14 Total Votes - 14 up - 0 down
  8. MAD HATTER says:

    Good to see our local councilman keeping busy with the child porn. No other real important business going on in Arroyo Grande. Was kind of wondering when the real stuff was going to come out.

    (13) 13 Total Votes - 13 up - 0 down

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