California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia who received national media notice due to her high-profile advocacy of the female-led #MeToo movement, has been accused of groping a male employee from another lawmaker’s office.
On Thursday, the male staffer told The Associated Press that Garcia stroked his back, she then squeezed Fierro’s buttocks and tried to touch and feel his crotch in a dugout after a 2014 legislative softball game.
However, he didn’t report the alleged incident at the time, but he opened up about it in January when he told his former boss, Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, who reported about the incident to Assembly leaders. The Assembly has opened an investigation into Garcia.
Fierro’s accusation was first reported by Politico.
The head of the Legislative Women’s Caucus, Garcia who is a leading figure in the state’s anti-sexual misconduct movement, learned on January 23 that a complaint was filed against her but no detail was given, a spokeswoman for Garcia, Teala Schaff said. In addition, Garcia only learned the specifics of the sexual harassment allegations from Politico.
The Los Angeles-area lawmaker said in a statement on Thursday, “Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place.” The lawmaker went on to say, “I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values.”
Fierro told the AP, “If the person leading the charge on it isn’t credible it just ends up hurting the credibility of these very real stories.”
A Democrat Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a statement that he is directing human resources in order to reach out to Garcia’s staff to ensure they feel safe.
He said, “I trust that while the investigation proceeds, Assemblymember Garcia will respond appropriately and in a way that fortifies the Legislature’s effort to create a new climate.”