The Los Angeles Times interviewed LVBH attorney Wendy Musell for an article regarding how the California Assembly handles confidentiality in investigations of sexual misconduct by legislators and others. The article focuses on the Assembly turning over witness identities as part of its settlement of a lawsuit by a former California Assemblymember who stepped down after allegations of sexual abuse.
Prompted by the #MeToo movement, many women came forward with stories of harassment relying on the ability to do so confidentially. After LVBH client Pamela Lopez accused Matt Dababneh of inappropriate behavior, 52 people were interviewed as part of a confidential investigation that substantiated the misconduct. Dababneh, in turn, sued the Assembly saying he had a right to know the identities of his accusers.
Wendy, who has testified at the Capitol on multiple occasions, said she believes this decision will dissuade women from reporting sexual harassment, stating, “It’s absolutely going to have a chilling effect,” she said. The accusers “didn’t want to be in that position in the first place,” she continued, adding “[a]nd then to learn at the end of the day that the person that you had the courage to come out and complain about is going to get a list of you and everybody else who provided statements, that is absolutely going to discourage people from coming forward.”