California state lawmaker accused of sexual harassment

FILE Matt Dababneh

Pamela Lopez had previously described an incident in which she says a sitting lawmaker cornered her in a bathroom at a wedding in a Las Vegas hotel January 16 of past year and exposed himself to her, but never named the lawmaker until Monday out of fear of retaliation.

Lopez was joined Monday by Jessica Yas Barker, who worked under Dababneh during his stint as district chief of staff for Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, in 2009-10. In a letter to Assembly Rules Committee Chairman Ken Cooley, Lopez wrote that she and Dababneh were among the guests celebrating the wedding of mutual friends.

She also credited the #MeToo campaign and the "moment of collective action" for inspiring her to come forward and name her perpetrator.

"He urged women to step forward and name our perpetrators, however powerful they might be, even if they are lawmakers".

This week's allegations come after dozens of accusations of sexual harassment in the state Capitol from other women.

Another lawmaker, Sen. Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, was stripped of his legislative leadership positions pending an investigation into harassment allegations.

Dababneh's office said it would have a statement soon, and referred questions to an attorney.

Barker additionally said that she has no motivation to think Sherman knew about Dababneh's conduct ― he was "dependably on his best conduct before the congressman", she said. Beforehand, he was head of staff for Sherman, and filled in as a staff part for previous Secretary of State John Kerry's 2004 presidential crusade. She said he also asked her to touch his genitals.

"As terrifying as it is, it's my job to do everything that I can do so that other women and other allies can do everything that they can do", 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'".

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