By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated January 22, 2002 12:00 PM

Comedienne Paula Poundstone, 41, is facing the tough road back to a career after she was arrested seven months ago on charges of child abuse. She was accused of committing lewd acts upon a child and child endangerment, according to The New York Times. At the time of her arrest, Poundstone had three adopted and two foster children in her care, all between 2 and 12 years old. In September, she pleaded no contest to one count of felony child endangerment and one misdemeanor count of inflicting injury upon a child (she was sentenced to five years’ probation and a six-month alcohol rehabilitation program. She completed the latter in December). At the time she said alcohol “helped to create a dangerous situation for the children,” The Times reports. But she denies committing lewd acts or child abuse. The circumstances surrounding the case have been largely a mystery to the public, since court records were sealed. But Poundstone is scheduled for her first interview since June on Tuesday, when she will speak with Maria Shriver on NBC’s “Dateline” — her first big step toward trying to bring the public back around. So far, Poundstone’s only appearance took place Dec. 14 at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz, Calif., a liberal college town. The 700-seat venue was mostly filled. “This is my first night performing since I was a criminal,” The Times quotes Poundstone as saying that night as she took to the stage. “It’s kind of strange to see this many seats not in a circle.”