Two Women Accuse California Asm. Matt Dababneh Of Sexual Harassment

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. She chose to name Dababneh at the encouraging of California Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D), who seats the Assembly Rules Committee. At the time, she refused to say who it was, but said she was persuaded to come forward to protect other women after an Assembly hearing last week on sexual harassment policies.

Dababneh's spokeswoman Elana Weiss says he is not resigning.

"It was Matt Dababneh", Lopez told The Times in a November interview. "He told me to touch his genitals while he was masturbating". "And I thought, make very clear that I do not want to be here and that there's no misunderstanding".

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. Dababneh has strongly denied the allegation.

Former Capitol staffer Jessica Yas Barker was also present at Monday's press conference, and said Dababneh regularly made inappropriate comments.

In an October article for the Los Angeles Times, Barker described being harassed while working in the office of an unnamed elected official.

Barker said that Dababneh would talk to her about his "sexual prowess" and would talk about women he'd slept with or wanted to sleep with at events and fundraisers.

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

Young women in politics are especially vulnerable, she said, and many are "disappeared" after they are harassed or assaulted, even if they don't report the behavior.

Sherman issued a statement saying he had no knowledge of inappropriate behavior by Dababneh and that he was "surprised and saddened" to hear that Barker felt uncomfortable while working in the office.

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 can't have it on my conscience that this may happen again", she said. "Also, that is the dread of such huge numbers of other ladies who have imparted their encounters to me".

"I had panic attacks for years as a result of some really brutal sexual harassment in my work environment when I was 26.it didn't involve any physical assault, but it broke my mental health. What's more, that happens to such a large number of ladies".

"Ken Cooley encouraged ladies who have been sexually pestered inside the California political group to venture forward and address the council and look for review through their procedure", Lopez said at a Monday question and answer session.

"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.

Vanessa Coleman

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