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Calimesa Councilman Is Arrested

Jonathan Winningham is suspected of possessing and distributing child pornography.

October 20, 2005|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Calimesa City Councilman Jonathan L. Winningham was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography, authorities said.

Two witnesses reported to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday that they had seen child pornography on a computer at Winningham's Calimesa home. After obtaining a search warrant, investigators searched the home and confiscated three computers and other undisclosed items, a sheriff's spokesman said.

Before returning to the City Council in 1998, Winningham stated in a Riverside County voter information guide that he was a teacher at Orange County's Santiago Creek continuation school in Santa Ana. A Riverside County sheriff's spokesman said authorities were trying to determine whether Winningham was currently teaching.

Winningham, 49, a married father of two, has served as Calimesa's mayor twice, while on the City Council from 1992 to 1996 and from 1998 to present.

Before a special city meeting on another subject Wednesday, a sheriff's captain read a prepared statement informing the council and the public of Winningham's arrest.

Winningham "has not resigned, and since he's innocent until proven guilty, he's still part of the council," Calimesa Mayor Shenna Moqeet said. "I don't know all the facts about this, so I don't think it's fair to make a statement."

Winningham was jailed at Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on Wednesday in lieu of $5,000 bail, sheriff's spokesman Dennis Gutierrez said.

He was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of obscene matter and misdemeanor distribution of harmful matter.

Winningham has recently been an active member of a Yucaipa children's theater group, Yucaipa Little Theater. He has served as a board member, and in 2003 played Fezziwig in the group's production of "A Christmas Carol," according to a December 2003 article in Riverside's Press-Enterprise.

The theater board called an emergency meeting Wednesday night, said board member Daren Prescott.

"We have no comment at this time," he said when asked about the arrest.

A registered Democrat, Winningham sits on the Riverside Transit Agency's budget and finance committee. He also played an important role in landing Calimesa's first library.

In 1998, Winningham said his priorities in office were to "manage growth to have minimal affect on current residents, provide the best police and fire service possible [and] provide more community services for our children."

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