A California lawmaker is one of the latest political figures to find himself at the center of a sexual misconduct controversy after a female lobbyist accused him of following her into a single-stall bathroom, slamming the door behind him, and masturbating in front of her.
Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, a Democrat who represents a suburban Los Angeles district, was accused by lobbyist Pamela Lopez of sexual harassment during a January 2016 Las Vegas hotel party for mutual friends, the Washington Post reported.
“I spun around and realized that I was face to face with Matt Dababneh and that he had very quickly exposed himself and begun masturbating,” she said, adding that he “told me to touch his genitals.”
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my god. What do I do, what do I do?’ And I thought, make very clear that I do not want to be here and that there’s no misunderstanding. And, so I said several times, ‘No, I will not touch you.’”
Lopez had confidentially described the incident to various reporters and lawmakers in recent weeks, albeit with Dababneh’s name withheld. On Monday, she held a press conference to publicly air the allegation.
“I’m choosing to have hope that the process will work. I am putting this in the hands of the lawmakers who have told me they will act to protect me,” she said.
Dababneh, who was elected to the California Assembly 2013, fired back against Lopez’s claims in a statement made through a public relations firm.
“I affirmatively deny that this event ever happened – at any time,” he declared. “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.”