Two women say California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh sexually harassed them, including one who claims the lawmaker accosted her in a bathroom during a Las Vegas party and masturbated in front of her.
She sent a letter to lawmakers Monday claiming the three-term Democrat followed her into a bathroom during a 2016 party in Las Vegas, blocked the doorway and began masturbating.
Lopez on Monday filed a complaint against Dababneh with the Assembly Rules Committee, telling reporters she waited nearly two years to act out of fear of retaliation and mistrust of the legislature's system for handling sexual harassment claims.
The accusation comes in the midst of a national reckoning on sexual misconduct in the workplace.
Lopez detailed the encounter in a New York Times story last October, but did not name Dabeneh. The party was held in a room at the Las Vegas hotel where it would have been hard for both to enter the single-stall bathroom without someone seeing, he said.
"When I went to the bathroom after being at the party for a few hours, I felt the weight of a body push me into the restroom", she wrote.
Pamela Lopez, a Sacramento-based lobbyist, first publicly described being assaulted as part of the #MeToo campaign seven weeks ago, but kept her perpetrator anonymous, citing fear of retaliation. "I had no reason to think I was unsafe". "And I thought, make very clear that I do not want to be here and that there's no misunderstanding".
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"I affirmatively deny that this event ever happened - at any time", Dababneh said in the statement. "There are others and I have spoken to them".
Dababneh, a former aide to U.S. Rep Brad Sherman who was elected to the Assembly in 2013, issued a statement through a public relations firm saying he looks forward clearing his name. 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".
Lopez's lawyer, Jean Hyams, denounced the threat. She said the crowd included political professionals, many of whom she knew. "Women are threatened with defamation lawsuits". "But the shame does not belong to the women who are being harassed, the shame belongs to the perpetrator", she added. She said he did not do anything unlawful but said she considered his behavior outside the "rules of common decency or professionalism".
"It was pretty much an open secret in the San Fernando Valley that this is how Matt behaved", Barker said. Once, she alleged, he showed her a drawer full of condoms.
"Just this last weekend, I met a woman who told me that her daughter is interning in Matt's office", she said. Hyams said that Lopez had affirmed a reporter's question about whether the event was in Sacramento because she did not wish to identify Dababneh at the time. "He instructed me to touch his privates while he was stroking off".
Lopez has not recorded criminal allegations, but rather has documented an answer to the Assembly Rules Committee.