A judge Wednesday ordered Rep. Tony Cardenas to turn over to a young woman’s attorneys documents the San Fernando Valley lawmaker may have submitted to Congress to obtain House approval of his intent to solicit donors to fight the plaintiff’s civil suit alleging he molested her as a teen.
“Any documents submitted to the House should be discoverable,” Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Steven Kleifield said.
Plaintiff Jane Doe maintains in her court papers that Cardenas may have made statements in his application to Congress that are relevant to her case.
However, the judge denied the plaintiff’s three other requests for documents, finding that they were too broad and that the information could be obtained by other means.
Two other areas of information asked for by Doe and denied by the judge involved her request for documents related to any congressional investigation of Cardenas — including calls by the plaintiff and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi into Doe’s sexual misconduct allegations — and for any papers related to the ongoing FBI investigation into Doe’s claims.
Doe’s lawyer, Lynne Ciani, told the judge that businessman Mark Handel said during a deposition in February that the FBI questioned him in July 2018 about Doe’s allegations against Cardenas.
Handel is described in Doe’s court papers as a political contributor to Cardenas who provided upgraded housing years ago to Doe and her family.
But the judge said the request was too broad and involved issues that had no relevance to Doe’s case.
Cardenas’ lawyer, Joel Klevens, told the judge all of the woman’s requests should have been denied. He said the plaintiff was only entitled to the names of the donors to Cardenas’ legal defense fund and how much they gave.
Klevens said the plaintiff’s lawyers refused to compromise when he met with them to discuss what she wanted. He said many of the inquiries were unreasonable and part of a “fishing expedition” that has cost Cardenas a significant amount of expense. He asked the judge to award financial sanctions to Cardenas, but the request was denied.
The suit was filed in April 2018. Doe alleges Cardenas fondled her when she was 16 years old in 2007.
Doe’s court papers describe her as a “rising star” in amateur golf at the time and said she was dubbed “the next great Latina golfer” with comparisons to Nancy Lopez and Lorena Ochoa.
Cardenas often drove her to golf outings and at least twice took her to speaking events at Balboa Park and one other Los Angeles venue, the woman’s attorneys state in their court papers, which also allege that Cardenas asked the woman to stay by his side as he spoke with constituents and attendees.
Ciani said Cardenas’ defense lies in large part on his claim that Doe’s father, who worked for Cardenas in 2005-14, is a disgruntled former employee. Doe’s lawyers sought all communications between Cardenas and Doe’s father, noting that some of the text messages turned over that purport to be conversations between the two have the same phone number of origin.
“There is no indication the other party was Cardenas,” Ciani said. “All we have is the word of Mr. Cardenas.”
But the judge said the same information could be obtained by deposing Cardenas or filing a request for him to make admissions to her allegations.
Klevens said there was no basis for Doe’s demands and that her lawyers didn’t review all of the information turned over by the defense.
After the hearing, Ciani said she does not know why a congressional investigation into Doe’s claims against Cardenas has not started despite calls for one by both the plaintiff and Pelosi.
“You’ll have to ask Nancy Pelosi about that,” said Ciani, who added that Doe has offered to cooperate in such a probe and testify in front of Congress.
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