House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for an investigation into allegations of sexual assault of a minor that have been leveled against Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.)
Politico reported Pelosi said in a statement that she spoke with Cárdenas, who “appropriately asked us to withhold judgment until there is a full investigation of the facts.”
However, she added, “I call upon the House Ethics Committee for a prompt investigation of this matter.”
On Apr. 27, the Los Angeles Times reported a woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed a lawsuit against a politician, identified as John Doe, for sexually assaulting her in 2007 when she was a teenager.
According to Politico, Cárdenas told lawmakers he’s the man named in the lawsuit, which alleges he sexually assaulted the then-16-year-old, during a drive to the hospital.
The congressman reportedly invited her to play golf at the Hillcrest Country Club, where he handed her a cup of water with an “unusual taste.”
Hours later, she collapsed but didn’t lose consciousness and he drove her to the emergency room. The Los Angeles Times reported:
During the ride, he reached inside her shirt and rubbed her breasts, the suit alleges. He also reached down her shorts and fondled her vagina, according to the suit … The abuse continued for 30 to 45 minutes as he drove.
“Ms. Doe remained motionless and speechless throughout the entire incident in fear of what he might do if she did not feign sleep,” the lawsuit reportedly states.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the suit claims sexual battery, assault, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and states Cárdenas’ alleged behavior constitutes childhood sexual abuse.
She reportedly remained silent for fear of repercussions but felt emboldened by the #MeToomovement.
The lawmaker agreed to cooperate with an investigation and denied the allegations.
“My client is sickened and distraught by these horrific allegations, which are 100 percent, categorically untrue,” Politico reported his attorney, Patricia Glaser said in a statement.
Glaser expressed their respect for victims who have shared stories of abuse that “has actually occurred” but charged that the “baseless and reckless” allegations of the lawsuit “can ruin the lives and careers of innocent people.”
During the time of the alleged incident, Cárdenas was a member of the Los Angeles City Council. He assumed his congressional office in 2013.