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Former LA Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas Investigated For Sex Misconduct

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Two sexual harassment complaints had been filed against embattled former California Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-West Los Angeles) when he resigned from the California State Legislature late last year.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas
California Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D- West Los Angeles). June 7, 2017. (Credit: California State Assembly Democratic Caucus)

The 30-year-old Ridley Thomas, the son of Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, is currently under investigation by the legislature's Assembly Rules Committee for two separate sexual misconduct claims, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

When he abruptly resigned from the legislature in December 2017, Sebastian Ridley-Thomas cited chronic health problems that had necessitated five surgeries in the previous year. The nature of his health problems were never disclosed.

Ridley-Thomas has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement to the Times this week, his attorney reiterated that his client resigned solely due to health reasons.

"He underwent a number of surgeries and his doctor made it clear that serving in the Assembly was no longer an option," attorney Lance Olson wrote.

"He categorically denies any accusation, innuendo or conjecture that he conducted himself inappropriately while serving in the Legislature," Olson added.

This is the latest scandal to hit Ridley-Thomas. In July, USC fired him just months after hiring him as a professor of social work and public policy. He was hired despite not having a graduate degree. At the time, USC also gave Ridley-Thomas a scholarship to pursue a master's program in social work.

Mark Ridley-Thomas
FILE -- Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas speaks at Environmental Charter School Graduation on June 24, 2010, in Torrance, Calif. (Paul Redmond/Getty Images for Environmental Charter High School)

Following the firing, administrators revealed that in May, the USC Dworak-Peck School of Social Work had received a $100,000 donation from a campaign fund controlled by Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Times reports.

The school dean, Marilyn Flynn, turned around and sent that money to the Policy Research and Practice Initiative, a nonprofit group unaffiliated with the university which is run by Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, the Times reports.

After an internal probe, USC approached the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles and asked for a criminal investigation into the donation.

The unusual arrangement between the school and Sebastian Ridley-Thomas came scrutiny as the scandal-plagued university attempts to adopt more transparency in its affairs, according to the newspaper.

Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, who had been in the Assembly since 2013, was one of three Los Angeles-area Democratic assemblymen to resign in November and December of 2017. Assemblymen Matt Dababneh and Raul Bocanegra resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct.

Mark Ridley-Thomas is a former state legislator and city councilman who is one of the most influential politicians in L.A. His connections and donor base repeatedly helped his son at the ballot box.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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