Matt Dababneh, a Democratic assemblyman who represents a district in Southern California, allegedly followed Pamela Lopez into a bathroom and masturbated in front of her, according to an account she gave at a news conference on Monday. She chose to name Dababneh at the encouraging of California Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D), who seats the Assembly Rules Committee.
"I've heard from enough women, that I am fearful and I am anxious that this will happen to others again", she said. "I thought, 'Make it clear that I would prefer not to be here.' I said a few times, 'No, I won't touch you'". "I am putting this in the hands of the lawmakers who have told me they will act to protect me". He said he looks forward to clearing his name. I said several times, 'No, I will not touch you. "There are others and I have spoken to them".
In a statement, Dababneh, first elected in 2013, denied the event ever happened. Last week, Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Pacoima, resigned in response to harassment allegations by a series of women. Tony Mendoza of Artesia denies wrongdoing. It warned her that she would be "held fully accountable in damages" if she went through with Monday's press conference, or made any other public "false and defamatory allegation against Mr. Dababneh".
A second woman, Jessica Yas Barker, also came forward during the press conference, claiming sexual harassment but not criminal assault.More news: Russia's service sector revving up as business activity accelerates
"It was pretty much an open secret in the San Fernando Valley that this is how Matt behaved", said Barker, who now works for the television network Ovation.
U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman of California says he's surprised and saddened by a sexual misconduct claim against one of his former top staffers.
She accused Dababneh of making jokes about the glass ceiling to women in the office, commenting on their attire and talking about his sexual conquests.
"I had never seen or been told of, any inappropriate behavior by Assemblyman Dababneh, or any disparagement of women", Sherman said.More news: These Are The Finalists For The 2017 Heisman Trophy
"It was Matt Dababneh", Lopez told The Times in a November interview.
She says the goal of the subcommittee is to expose sexual harassment in the Capitol, make a better system that's protective of victims, fair to people that are accused, but has real repercussions for offenders.
Lopez's attorney, Leslie F. Levy, hit back with her own letter, warning that any defamation suit brought by Dababneh would lead to extensive discovery into his reputation around the Capitol.
In a complaint letter filed with the Assembly Rules Committee, Lopez said the alleged incident took place in January 2016 at a friend's wedding celebration at a Las Vegas hotel.More news: LaVar Ball pulls son LiAngelo Ball out of UCLA
Dababneh's lawyer, Patricia L. Glaser, sent a "cease and desist" letter to Lopez on Friday. Glaser also represents disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who faces dozens of sexual abuse allegations.