A leading voice in the anti-sexual harassment movement and California Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has been accused of groping male staffers at another lawmaker's office.
Garcia is also the head of the Legislative Women's Caucus and activist for the #MeToo movement. Now, a man named Daniel Fierro says that Garcia stroked his back, buttocks and attempted to touch his crouch after a legislative softball game in 2014.
Fierro says he didn't report it at the time but in told his former boss, Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, in January who in turn reported it to Assembly leaders. Garcia is now under investigation by the California Democratic Assembly.
Garcia said in a statement Thursday, "Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place."
"I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values," she continued. The investigation is one of many nationwide after a wave of sexual misconduct allegations following the exposure of Harvey Weinstein.
Fierro says he decided to come forward and tell Calderon about the incident because of Garcia's outspokenness in the #MeToo movement. "If the person leading the charge on it isn’t credible it just ends up hurting the credibility of these very real stories," he said.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon 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."
Garcia had her photo featured in Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue on being one of the "Silence Breakers" on sexual harassment. In Garcia's own words, "I refuse to work with (Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra) and anyone who takes part in harassment or assault."
"I would say that most of the public realizes that our job is based on relationships, and so we are expected to go out there and socialize," Garcia continued said. "I think our public also expects us to hold ourselves to a higher standard."
Fierro left the Assembly in 2016 and his former Boss Calderon is a now the majority leader. Lerna Shirinian has backed up his claim saying he told her about the incident right after it happened.
"He was in shock, I was in shock — but the culture was very different back then," Shirinian said.
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