California lawmaker faces inquiry over sex misconduct claim

FILE - In this May 15, 2017 file photo, assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Encino speaks at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Lobbyist Pamela 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, File)

Rich Pedroncelli

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on allegations of sexual misconduct against Assemblyman Matt Dababneh (all times local):

4 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman of California says he's surprised and saddened by a sexual misconduct claim against one of his former top staffers.

Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, a Los Angeles Democrat, worked in Sherman's district office until being elected to the Legislature in 2013.

Jessica Yas Barker, another former Sherman staffer, has accused Dababneh of making frequently sexually charged and inappropriate comments in the office. She made her allegations Monday after lobbyist Pamela Lopez accused Dababneh of following her into a bathroom and masturbating in front of her last year.

Sherman says Barker's allegations are the first he heard of inappropriate or disparaging behavior by Dababneh. He says such allegations never came up during Dababneh's campaigns.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, meanwhile, says Dababneh is temporarily stepping down from his committee chairmanship.

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2 p.m.

The California Assembly plans to investigate a sexual misconduct allegation against Los Angeles Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, who has denied any inappropriate behavior.

The Assembly will hire an outside law firm to investigate the claim by Sacramento lobbyist Pamela Lopez. She sent a letter to lawmakers Monday claiming the three-term Democrat followed her into a bathroom during a 2016 party in Las Vegas, blocked the doorway and began masturbating.

In a written statement, Dababneh denied the incident and said Lopez apparently is coming forward "for her own self-promotion." He said he looks forward to clearing his name.

Two other Democrats in the Legislature have been publicly accused of sexual misbehavior. Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned last week, and Sen. Tony Mendoza denies wrongdoing.

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