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Assemblyman from LA faces inquiry over sex misconduct claim

Lobbyist Pamela Lopez makes a public allegation of lewd behavior by Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Encino, during a news conference Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, in Sacramento, Calif. Lopez alleges that Debabneh followed her into bar bathroom and performed a lewd act in front of her in 2016. Debabneh denies the accusation. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The California Assembly said it will investigation a graphic sexual misconduct allegation made Monday by a female lobbyist against a Democratic member, the latest claim against men in the Legislature and industries nationwide.

Assemblyman Matt Dababneh of Los Angeles denied the allegation from lobbyist Pamela Lopez. She accused him of following her into a bar bathroom, masturbating and asking him to touch her at a party for mutual friends in Las Vegas in January 2016. The event was not work-related.

She detailed the allegation at a press conference in the office of her lobbying firm, K Street Consulting, and in a letter to the Assembly committee tasked with handling misconduct complaints. She has no immediate plans to file a complaint with the police.

"I'm choosing to have hope that that process will work," Lopez said. "I am putting this in the hands of the lawmakers who have told me they will act to protect me."

Dababneh said Lopez is making the allegations "apparently for her own self-promotion" and he looks forward to clearing his name.

Patricia Glaser, an attorney for Dababneh, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Lopez on Friday and threatened to seek damages if she went public with her allegations.

Glaser also represents disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Allegations of sexual misconduct by Weinstein sparked a national movement against sexual harassment that has brought down prominent men in entertainment, media and politics.

Dababneh, 36, is the third sitting lawmaker to be investigated by the Legislature over sexual misconduct allegations since nearly 150 women at the Capitol came forward in October to allege pervasive harassment.

Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned last week, and Sen. Tony Mendoza denies wrongdoing. Both are Los Angeles-area Democrats. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon has not yet commented on the allegations against Dababneh.

Dababneh was elected to the Legislature in a 2013 special election after working for eight years as a district chief of staff and senior aide to U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman. He is the chairman of the Assembly's Banking and Finance Committee.

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