California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, chair of the Legislative Women’s Caucus and a leading figure in the state’s #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, has herself been accused of groping a former legislative staffer, according to a Politico story published Thursday.
Who is Cristina Garcia?
Garcia was elected to the state assembly in 2012. Throughout her time in office, she has been known as a champion of women’s issues and environmental health for impoverished communities.
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Since the beginning of the #MeToo movement this fall, Garcia has been a vocal supporter, tweeting in October that she refused to work with another assemblyman who had been disciplined years prior for groping a colleague. She has also supported legislation that would give legislative staff members whistleblower protections for reporting sexual misconduct.
For this work, Garcia was featured as part of the “Silence Breakers,” who were Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.
A groping incident
But now, she’s come under fire for being a perpetrator of sexual misconduct herself for an alleged incident involving an assembly aide in 2014.
A man named Daniel Fierro says he was groped by Garcia while working as a staffer to Assemblyman Ian Calderon. According to Fierro’s account, Fierro was cleaning up the dugout following a softball game when Garcia approached him.
Garcia reportedly appeared inebriated and began stroking his back and then squeezed his butt. Fierro says she then attempted to grab his crotch as well, but he quickly walked away. Fierro never reported the incident as he didn’t feel it was a “life-damaging experience.”
In January, Fierro mentioned the incident to Calderon. It was then referred to the Assembly Rules Committee, which has since launched an investigation.
Since Fierro’s story came out, at least one other individual has come forward to accuse Garcia of inappropriate sexual behavior. A Sacramento lobbyist also told Politico that he had been accosted by Garcia last year, at which time she “made a graphic sexual proposal, and tried to grab his crotch.”
For her part, Garcia has said that she was unaware of the claims until this week. “Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place,” she said. “I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values.”