California state lawmaker accused of sexual harassment

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A female lobbyist said Monday that Assemblyman Matt Dababneh sexually assaulted her in a bathroom - an allegation the Los Angeles Democrat denied and said came "apparently for her own self-promotion". She chose to name Dababneh at the urging of California Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D), who chairs the Assembly Rules Committee.

The accusation comes in the midst of a national reckoning on sexual misconduct in the workplace.

Lopez, a lobbyist who works for K Street Consulting, had signed the letter and shared an account of the alleged assault in the New York Times at the time.

Lopez lawyer Jean Hyams said her client's complaint "is really a test of the legislature's system". Dababneh unzipped his trousers and began masturbating, she said, urging her to touch him. "I had no reason to think I was unsafe". It felt familiar to me", Barker said."Pamela and I aren't the only women that Matt has harassed. "And I thought, make very clear that I do not want to be here and that there's no misunderstanding".

Two women have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and assault against California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (D).

So far Debabneh has not commented, but his attorney told the Los Angeles Times "These events did not happen". "There are others and I have spoken to them". "I was terrified of being shunned or retaliated against if the Capitol community knew what happened to me", Lopez said. But what seems more troubling are the allegations made by the woman at Lopez's side on Monday.

Lobbyist Pamela Lopez
Lobbyist Pamela Lopez

Lopez's lawyer, Jean Hyams, denounced the threat. Lopez said she refused and left the room feeling shaken.

He said Dababneh was there for about 90 minutes and he was with him most of the time and does not remember him using the bathroom.

A former worker at the congressional office where Dababneh was the district director at the time, Jessica Yas Barker, accused him of sexual harassment in the 1 1/2 years she was an employee. She said he did not do anything unlawful but said she considered his behavior outside the "rules of common decency or professionalism". Dababneh's behavior was "an open secret" in the San Fernando Valley, Barker asserted, and was the reason she chose to leave her job 18 months later. "On more than one occasion, I had to listen to him regale me about stories of his sexual prowess", Barker said. At the office, he showed her condoms in his desk drawer, she said.

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. "No, I will not touch you, '" Lopez recalled.

Lopez has not filed criminal charges, but has filed a report to the Assembly Rules Committee.

"I was up close and personal with Matt Dababneh and he had immediately uncovered himself and began jerking off", she said.

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