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Assemblywoman at forefront of #MeToo movement accused of sexual misconduct

Melanie Mason, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, chair of the Legislative Women's Caucus who has been at the forefront of the movement against sexual harassment in the state Capitol, has herself become the subject of allegations of sexual misconduct. The Los Angeles-area Democrat said she would "participate fully" in the investigation.

Politico reported Thursday that two men said Garcia, of Bell Gardens, made improper advances toward them. One, a former legislative staffer, said Garcia groped his back and buttocks and attempted to grab his crotch during a legislative softball game in 2014.

The former staffer, Daniel Fierro, told his former boss, Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Montebello, about the incident several weeks ago, his office said. Calderon then reported the incident to the Assembly Rules Committee.

"Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place," Garcia said in a statement. "The details of these claims have never been brought to my attention until today. I can confirm that I did attend the 2014 legislative softball game with a number of members and my staff. I can also say I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values."

Politico reported about a second accusation from a lobbyist who was not named in the story. Politico reported the lobbyist said Garcia attempted to grab his genitals and made an explicit sexual proposition at a 2017 event.

Garcia, one of the most outspoken legislators in the #MeToo movement, now finds herself facing criticism from colleagues. State Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, called the allegations "very troubling."

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"I have consistently voiced my strong opinion that any legislator under investigation by either the Assembly or Senate should take an immediate leave of absence until the review is completed," Leyva said in a statement. "As Vice Chair of the Women's Caucus, I will be asking that the membership of the Caucus meet in the very near future to discuss the fate of Assemblymember Cristina Garcia as Women's Caucus Chair."

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