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Comedian Poundstone gets custody of children

Paula Poundstone
Paula Poundstone

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Comedian Paula Poundstone comments after a California court awards her custody of her adopted children (December 11)
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SANTA MONICA, California (CNN) -- A judge Wednesday granted Paula Poundstone full custody of her adopted children, who have been in state custody since the comedian was arrested last year on child endangerment and lewd conduct charges.

The lewd conduct charges -- stemming from a June 2001 arrest -- were dropped in October of last year, and Poundstone pleaded guilty to felony child endangerment and a misdemeanor count of inflicting injury on a child.

Poundstone, wearing a Three Stooges tie, left court Wednesday thrilled at the outcome, but with harsh words for the family court system.

"We're celebrating. I have my Christmas gift and it's not from these people," she said, indicating the court behind her. "It's from my children."

"I drank too much and I caused problems. I am more than willing to accept blame for that. I don't pretend to be a victim," the 43-year-old comedian said. "All I can say is the way it's been carried out has not been in the best interest of my kids."

Poundstone's attorney, Rich Pfeiffer, said cases like Poundstone's would normally have taken about eight months to reach the same conclusion.

"I can only guess it's because of her celebrity," Pfeiffer said. "But she was definitely treated differently from the average client in this process would be treated."

"I've had to fight very hard to get them where they belong," Poundstone said "And not every family in this court has the money to fight so hard.

"My son is 4, and he says he hates night," she said, "because night to him is the time when over the last year we were not allowed to be together. I was with them every waking minute of the day that I could be during the last year."

Poundstone got her first unsupervised overnight visit with the three adopted children over the Thanksgiving weekend, a week after Superior Court Judge Bernard Kamins ordered the children returned, saying Poundstone had done an "A-plus job" on her rehabilitation.

Two other children who were in Poundstone's home as part of the foster care system were removed permanently.

Kamins last year sentenced Poundstone to five years probation and 180 days in an alcohol rehabilitation program.

The charges stemmed from Poundstone driving four of her children to get ice cream while intoxicated. Poundstone acknowledged the offense, but called the lewd conduct charge "without foundation" and slammed the "unenthusiastic coverage" in the news media when the charge was dropped.

"If they could have made that stick believe me they would have," she said. "There has been nobody in this process who has liked me for a moment."

"The mistakes that I made I made because I drank too much," Poundstone added. "I don't think that's going to happen any more. Am I going to make mistakes as a parent? Sadly, every day. I'm looking around for the perfect parent and I haven't seen one yet."

Poundstone said she worried every day about what the children were going through.

"One thing I try to tell my kids, and I hope that I'll be able to exemplify it, is you make a mistake, you admit it, you move on," she said.

Poundstone appears on the syndicated TV show "To Tell the Truth." She has won several awards for her stand-up work, including two Cable Ace trophies and a local Emmy.

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