Woman accusing Calif. Dem of sexual abuse identifies herself publicly

Woman accusing Calif. Dem of sexual abuse identifies herself publicly
© Greg Nash

The woman who is suing Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) over allegations that he molested her as a teenage girl is identifying herself publicly by name for the first time.

Angela Villela Chavez identified herself on Monday, as reported by the Los Angeles Times. Chavez, 28, says that she asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to open an investigation into her allegations last month.

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Chavez’s lawyers told the Times in a statement that she was inspired to go public by Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who testified about her claims of sexual assault against then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over the summer. Kavanaugh denied the accusations from Ford and other women, and was ultimately confirmed to the high court.

Chavez in her lawsuit accuses Cárdenas of drugging and fondling her in 2007. In court documents filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court, she says that that Cárdenas gave her water that “tasted distinctly different from both tap and filtered water,” and she collapsed. She claims that he fondled her breasts and genitals before he took her to the hospital.

Cárdenas has denied the accusations and created a legal defense fund to cover the costs related to the suit in August.

His lawyer, Patricia Glaser, in a statement to the Times criticized Chavez's call for a congressional ethics investigation.

“The lawyer's decision now to request an ethics investigation speaks volumes to their meritless and weak case," Glaser said in the statement. "Their sensationalizing the plaintiff’s false charges is a transparent effort to gain leverage through public relations, not the merits of plaintiff’s allegations, which are being litigated in court." 

Chavez is the daughter of Gus Villela, who worked for Cárdenas on the Los Angeles City Council and Capitol Hill, according to the Times.   

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last year that the House Ethics Committee has the authority to investigate the allegations against Cárdenas.