SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Reuters) ? Comedian Paula Poundstone was sentenced Wednesday to five years probation and 180 days in an alcohol treatment program and told she could never be a foster parent again, after she pleaded no contest to child endangerment charges.
The 41-year-old comedian, who entered an alcohol rehabilitation program in June, said in a statement after a sentencing hearing that drinking lay behind the charges which involved her two adopted children and three foster children.
“My drinking helped to create a dangerous situation for the children. For this I am very sorry. For my kids’ sake as well as my own, I am determined to put my alcohol problems behind me,” she said.
Poundstone was spared six months of prison time by agreeing to remain in the live-in alcohol rehab program for another 55 days. She was also ordered to undertake 200 hours of community service, attend a counseling program on child abuse and undergo psychiatric counseling once a week for a year.
Poundstone appeared in court for the hearing but did not speak to reporters afterward.
Her lawyer Steven Cron said the child endangerment charge stemmed from an incident in which Poundstone had driven four of her children to an ice cream store while she was intoxicated. She was not cited at the time, and no accident occurred.
Earlier additional charges of committing a lewd act on a child were dropped by the prosecution last month. Poundstone, best known for her appearances on the television game show “To Tell the Truth,” said on Wednesday those charges were simply not true. Officials have refused to release details of the charge, saying they wanted to protect the children involved.
Santa Monica Superior Court Judge Bernard Kamins said Poundstone must not hit or strike her children or use corporal punishment on them. He added: “Your privilege to have foster children is terminated.”
Kamins put off until next month a request by Poundstone’s lawyer that she be allowed to work as a comic while undergoing treatment at the alcohol rehab center.
“If I give someone a live-in drug or alcohol treatment program instead of jail, it doesn’t matter if they are a janitor, a TV photographer or a lawyer,” Kamins said.
“I don’t want to treat her differently because of her status as someone in the spotlight,” he added.
Kamins wished Poundstone good luck, adding; “I think her humor is unique and feel it is only going to get better after this life experience.”