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Woman who accused congressman of sexual abuse drops lawsuit under mysterious circumstances

Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) in 2012. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

A woman who accused Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.) of sexually abusing her as a 16-year-old has dropped her lawsuit against the congressman.

The 28-year-old, Angela Chavez, agreed to drop her case Tuesday in exchange for an agreement from Cárdenas that he would not sue her for anything related to the lawsuit she brought, lawyers told The Washington Post.

The case collapsed under somewhat unknown circumstances.

In an email, Lisa Bloom, a prominent women’s rights lawyer who was representing Chavez, told The Post that her firm filed a motion to withdraw two months ago, based on attorney ethics rules. She declined to comment on which rules the firm was adhering to.

Court filings do little to shed light on the case. Lawyers with the Bloom Firm noted in multiple filings that they were required to withdraw from the case under rules about professional conduct.

“We also believe we are not permitted to disclose, at least in these moving papers, which Rule of Professional Conduct requires our withdrawal nor can we disclose any other information out of concern for protecting our client,” one lawyer, Vernon L. Ellicott, wrote in a court filing. Another exhibit included in a filing noted that three lawyers working on the case had recently left the Bloom Firm.

In a brief phone interview, Chavez also declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

“I’m still a victim, and I just wish I would have chose better representation than I did,” she said. The Post does not generally name alleged victims of sexual assault, but Chavez agreed to speak on the record.

Cárdenas was not named in the initial complaint in the lawsuit, which was filed in April 2018, because under California law, the names of defendants in child sexual abuse cases cannot be disclosed without court approval.

Rep. Tony Cárdenas denies lawsuit’s allegations of child sex abuse in 2007

The case alleged that “John Doe” met the woman when she was 14 at a golf tournament and became a friend of her and her family’s. Two years later, the lawsuit alleged, he fondled her breasts and genitals while driving her to an emergency room after the two played golf at Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles.

The woman said she “collapsed to the ground” during the golf game after John Doe gave her a cup of ice water that tasted off, the lawsuit stated.

Cárdenas denied the allegations at the time, with his lawyer Patricia Glaser calling them baseless and reckless. He was soundly reelected to his district north of Los Angeles in November.

“Once in a while with one of these ‘#MeToo’ cases, the defendant is vindicated,” Glaser told The Post on Wednesday. “And this is one of the few that this happened. Tony gets points for saying, ‘I’m not paying on this one, I didn’t do anything wrong.’ ”

Eddy Palanzo, Erica Werner and Elise Viebeck contributed to this report.

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