The Los Angeles city attorney's office announced Thursday that the chairman of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, Edwin A. Jones, has been charged with indecent exposure and lewd conduct in an incident that allegedly occurred nine days ago at a Studio City motel.
If convicted, Jones, 54, a former Thousand Oaks mayor, could receive up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine on each of the two misdemeanor charges.
Police said the allegations stem from a woman's complaint that, on June 12, Jones exposed himself to her and made an obscene gesture in the courtyard of the Charles Motel on Ventura Boulevard.
Reached in Sacramento, where he is lobbying on behalf of the county, Jones said he is "totally innocent of any crime." Jones ruled out resigning as supervisor, but said he is considering stepping down as board chairman.
Will Seek Citizen's Comments
Jones, who had earlier predicted he would not be charged in the incident, said he would seek residents' comments on the issue on Saturday at The Oaks shopping mall in Thousand Oaks.
As he does several Saturdays a month, Jones said, he will set up a table outside the mall's J. C. Penney store from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to listen to constituents.
"If the people want me to stay on as chairman, then I will," he said. "If not, they will let me know."
Acknowledged Earlier Charge
Jones has previously acknowledged that he was charged with indecent exposure in 1962 and pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of disturbing the peace. The 1962 case was used against him in 1974 during his successful first campaign for supervisor.
Ted Goldstein, press deputy for the city attorney's office, said Jones will be arraigned in San Fernando Municipal Court on July 19. He said that a copy of the charges will be mailed to Jones, who will not be required to report before his arraignment.
Jones, who is married and has five children, has acknowledged being at the motel "with a woman other than my wife." But he said he did not expose himself or make an obscene gesture in the courtyard.
"What I did was immoral but I broke no laws," he said. "I was never in a position to be seen in a state of undress outside the motel room."
He also has acknowledged that he had been drinking at the time, but denied a police allegation that he was intoxicated.
Goldstein said a complaint was filed by Cozette Smith, 22, who told police she was walking across the courtyard when she saw Jones, naked, standing outside a motel room and beckoning to her.
When Smith tried to ignore Jones, Goldstein said, "she then alleges that Jones' beckoning became more intense and that he then made a gesture of lewd conduct."
Police said that Smith reported the incident minutes later to two officers patrolling the motel's parking lot. Jones, unclothed from the waist up, met police at the door of a motel room, they said.
Goldstein said that, while police were questioning Jones and Ellen Lynn Clark, 38, of Agoura, who he said was with the supervisor at the motel, Jones made a gesture toward police that was "of a threatening nature" and police responded by spraying Jones in the face with tear gas.
Jones denied he made any hostile gesture toward police and said the officers "ought to be ashamed of themselves for attacking a 54-year-old man."
James L. McBride, chief assistant county counsel for Ventura County, said that a misdemeanor conviction would not force Jones to resign.
"We are a common-law county, governed by state law," he said, "and state law forces one to forfeit public office upon conviction of a felony, but is silent about conviction on a misdemeanor."
Supervisor Susan K. Lacey of Ventura said she and other board members have urged Jones to resign as board chairman "to relieve one source of pressure from his life at this time."
Lacey predicted Jones would step down. He was elected chairman for one year last January by fellow supervisors.
Jones was elected to the Thousand Oaks City Council in 1970 and served as mayor in 1972 and 1973.
After being elected to the county post in 1974, he was reelected in 1978 and 1982. He is up for reelection in 1986.
Jones holds a master's degree in political science and taught in Los Angeles high schools before becoming a political science instructor at Valley College in Van Nuys, where he continues to teach full time.