PALMDALE – An assistant superintendent at the Palmdale School District pleaded not guilty Tuesday to more than two dozen charges, including dog fighting, animal cruelty and child abuse, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced.
Pauline Ruth Winbush, 52, and her boyfriend Kevin Ray Williams, 50, face four felony counts of dog fighting, 17 felony counts of cruelty to an animal and one felony count of child abuse, according to Deputy District Attorney Lyle Riggs.
The criminal complaint also includes seven Los Angeles County code violations, including unsanitary conditions and failing to license and vaccinate the dogs.
According to the prosecutor, animal control officers discovered a horse belonging to the couple roaming the streets on Oct. 29. Numerous additional animals were discovered when authorities searched the couple’s Antelope Acres home the following month.
Among the animals were dogs that were allegedly kept inside crates filled with feces, and urine stored inside the house where the couple and a minor lived, the prosecutor added.
A total of 19 pit bulls were recovered from the home and had to be euthanized, Riggs said, and some of the dogs showed signs of being used for dog fighting.
Winbush and Williams were arrested around 3 p.m. Monday, LASD inmate records show.
Palmdale School District responds
In a statement issued Tuesday, Palmdale Superintendent Raul Maldonado responded to questions about the status of Winbush’s employment with the Palmdale School District. Winbush, who once served as Interim Superintendent of Schools, is currently employed as the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources at Palmdale School District.
“We are deeply troubled by the November 26, 2014 raid on Ms. Winbush’s home by local law enforcement officials and her subsequent arrest and arraignment,” Maldonado said in the statement. “The District placed Ms. Winbush on paid administrative leave on December 1, 2014, the first business day after November 26, and commenced its own investigation of her conduct and the circumstances giving rise to the actions of local law enforcement officials. That investigation is ongoing.”
The statement continues: “We are closely monitoring the criminal proceedings against Ms. Winbush. Although such proceedings are public, the District’s investigation and actions involve a personnel matter, and we are therefore precluded from any further comment at this time.”
Winbush faces 13 years
After pleading not guilty to all charges Tuesday, Winbush was ordered to return to court Jan. 12 for a preliminary hearing. At the conclusion of that hearing, a judge will decide if there is enough evidence against Winbush for the case to go to trial. Her bail was set at $250,000. The prosecutor is recommending $440,000 bail for Williams, who was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon.
If convicted of all charges, Winbush and Williams face a possible maximum sentence of 13 years in state prison.
The case remains under investigation by the County of Los Angeles Department of Animal Care and Control and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
UPDATED 1/28/15: On Jan. 12, the preliminary hearing for Winbush and Williams was postponed until Jan. 28. The hearing started Wednesday, Jan. 28, with the judge hearing testimony from three witnesses. The hearing was not completed that afternoon and was continued until Thursday. We will continue to follow this story.