Sexual harassment claim withdrawn in California House race

In an unexpected twist in one of the most competitive House races in the country, a woman who accused a Southern California Democratic congressional candidate of sexual harassment withdrew the accusation, saying it was a misunderstanding.

The announcement by Democrat Gil Cisneros' campaign followed a barrage of Republican-backed ads spotlighting the accusations in the 39th District, where he faces Republican Young Kim in November.

A former Democratic candidate for the state Assembly, Melissa Fazli said in May that an intoxicated Cisneros had made a sexually suggestive comment to her at a state Democratic convention, then later made another inappropriate comment on a phone call. On Twitter, she called him "an unethical, creepy man."

The accusation was featured in a string of ads by the Congressional Leadership Fund which is the House Republican leadership's main financial arm for preserving the GOP majority. The ads depicted Cisneros as "shady" and "disgusting."

According to a statement issued by his campaign, a local community leader arranged a meeting between Cisneros and Fazli last weekend, where they agreed it was a misunderstanding.

Dawn Kamber