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Assemblyman Dababneh Announces Resignation Following Sexual Assault Claim

SACRAMENTO (AP) — California Assemblyman Matt Dababneh announced Friday that he’s resigning after a lobbyist alleged he sexually assaulted her in a bathroom last year.

Dababneh, a Los Angeles Democrat, denied the allegation is his resignation letter, but said he no longer believes he can effectively serve his district. He said he will cooperate with an Assembly investigation into the claim.

“Beyond the salacious headlines, I am confident that the completed investigation will bring to light and into focus the significant and persuasive evidence of my innocence,” he wrote.

Dababneh is the second California lawmaker to step down following allegations of sexual misconduct. Democratic Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra resigned last month after multiple women accused him of kissing or groping them without consent.

Dababneh’s resignation, effective Jan. 1, means Democrats will no-longer have a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly, which allows them to raise taxes, suspend legislative rules and pass emergency legislation without Republican votes.

Lobbyist Pamela Lopez alleged at a news conference Monday that Dababneh pushed her into a single-stall bathroom during a Las Vegas social event and masturbated in front of her while asking her to touch him. She also outlined the alleged incident in a letter to the Assembly committee tasked with handling misconduct complaints.

Dababneh, 36 and not married, is a former aide to U.S. Rep Brad Sherman. He was elected to the Assembly in as 2013 special election.

Lopez is the only woman to make a formal claim against Dababneh as a lawmaker, but another alleged inappropriate conduct while he worked for Sherman from 2005-2013, including as the district chief of staff.

Jessica Yas Barker joined Lopez at the news conference to allege frequent inappropriate comments by Dababneh when they worked together. Dababneh frequently spoke about sex and his sexual exploits and showed her condoms in his desk drawer, she said.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, released a statement regarding the resignation Friday:

“Matt Dababneh’s resignation is yet another sign that the culture is changing. The Assembly will continue our work to hasten that change, to make the Legislature an institution where people are safe, survivors are helped, and perpetrators are held accountable.”

Dababneh’s office could not be reached for comment Friday.