As Assemblyman Matt Dababneh denies the lobbyist’s charges, a second woman steps forward with more allegations.
The hits keep coming in Sacramento, as another of California’s Assembly members is now accused of sexual misconduct.
Sacramento lobbyist Pamela Lopez has claimed that, in 2016, Democratic Assemblyman Matt Dababneh followed her into a bathroom, masturbated in front of her and urged her to touch him. Dababneh has strongly denied the allegation.
“It was Matt Dababneh,” Lopez told The Times in a November interview.
Lopez jolted the California political world seven weeks ago when she first shared her account of an encounter in Las Vegas, joining more than 140 women as they denounced in an open letter a “pervasive” culture of sexual harassment and misconduct in the state Capitol.
Lopez had not publicly accused Dababneh until Monday, when she formally filed a complaint with the Assembly and named him at a news conference. The Times had been preparing a report on her accusations against Dababneh, and sought the assemblyman’s comment late last week.
Dababneh denies Lopez’s charges.
“I affirmatively deny that this event ever happened — at any time,” the statement said. “I am saddened by this lobbyist’s effort to create this falsehood and make these inflammatory statements, apparently for her own self-promotion and without regard to the reputation of others. I look forward to clearing my name.”
There is a legal battle between these two parties that is brewing:
Lopez’s lawyers provided reporters with copies of a cease-and-desist letter that Patricia Glaser, chair of the litigation department at Glaser Weil Fink Howard Avchen & Shapiro, sent the lobbyist on Friday. Glaser wrote that Lopez’ claims against Dababneh are false and warned that, if she repeated them at the press conference or anywhere else, “you will be held fully accountable in damages.”
…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.
“While we understand that many lawmakers and others who work in the Capitol might not volunteer their opinions regarding your client,” Levy wrote, “we are confident that they would testify truthfully under oath if questioned about the subject.”
A second woman has also stepped forward with her own allegations of inappropriate behavior.
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.
“His behavior also veered into the overtly sexual. On more than one occasion, I had to listen to him regale me about stories of his sexual prowess,” Barker said. “At events or fundraisers, he would eye up women in the room and talk about his conquests, who he had slept with, who wanted to sleep with him.”
Barker went on to say that Dababneh “would open his top desk drawer to reveal a storage of condoms.”
“I wasn’t surprised when I heard Pamela’s story. It felt familiar to me,” Barker said.”Pamela and I aren’t the only women that Matt has harassed. There are others and I have spoken to them.”
Dababneh, 36, was on the staff of the John Kerry for President campaign in 2004 and was first elected to California’s 45th District in 2014.DONATE
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