The wave of alleged sexual assaults by US leaders continues to undermine the political scene.
This time, it's Congressman Tony Cárdenas who has been accused of alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl a decade ago.
According to the newspaper La Opinión (in Spanish), civil rights attorney Liza Bloom filed the lawsuit before the Los Angeles County Superior Court "on behalf of a woman identified only as 'Jane Doe'." The lawsuit states that "Cárdenas invited the then-teenager to play golf at the Hillcrest Country Club and during the game, he gave her a cup of water that had a 'peculiar flavor' and that left her semi-conscious."
According to the lawsuit, Cárdenas allegedly touched the girl "while she pretended to be asleep for fear of what he could do to her".
For his part, Cárdenas has "vehemently denied" the accusations.
Last Thursday, his representative, lawyer Patricia Glaser, said that "my client is sickened and distraught by these horrific allegations, which are 100% categorically untrue." She also added that "we respect victims who have found the strength to come forward and call out misconduct when it has actually occurred, but the type of baseless and reckless allegations that are contained in the complaint against my client can ruin the lives and careers of innocent people", as reported the Washington Post.
Cárdenas joins a series of politicians who have been entangled in thumps of the so-called #MeToo movement in recent months, and who have resigned their office at the request of their colleagues, as was the case of Democratic Senator Al Franken of Minnesota who resigned last December after being accused of minor offenses.
However, the case of Cardenas puts the Democratic caucus in a delicate situation in face of the midterm elections this year.
According to CNN, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, said that "she was withholding judgment on Cardenas until a House Ethics Committee investigation is complete.”
"I’ve spoken with Congressman Cárdenas and he appropriately asked us to withhold judgment until there is a full investigation of the facts," Pelosi said in a statement issued last weekend.
"As members of Congress, each of us has a responsibility to uphold the integrity of the House of Representatives, and any type of alleged misconduct must be investigated by the Ethics Committee," she added.
But faced with the intricate political battle of regaining control of the houses of Congress this year, Democrats "can’t afford to lose a single seat, much less a rock-solid Democratic district like that of Cárdenas, who was re-elected for his third term in the San Fernando Valley with 75% of the vote," CNN continues.
But criticism is the order of the day and there are already several people who have asked Cardenas to resign.
One of them is retired military officer Joe Shammas, the Democratic opponent of Cárdenas for this year's elections who has asked his opponent "to resign for the good of the party."
In a statement sent to CNN, Shammas said that "Congressman Tony Cárdenas needs to face and address (the accusations) in a court of law. As we have seen time and time again in Hollywood and in our nation's capital, powerful men have preyed on young vulnerable women for far too long. Luckily we are at a time where victims are finally being listened to, and these disgusting men are exposed for the predators they are."
In addition to the request, the representative of District 6 of the Board of the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), Kelly Gonez, has asked the congressman "to resign immediately", through a statement.
"I am deeply disturbed by the pattern of elected officials in the San Fernando Valley who have been exposed for assaults and harassment against women and, now, a young girl," she added. "My constituents, our community, and the Democratic Party deserve better."