California Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the head of the Legislative Women's Caucus and a leading figure in the state's anti-sexual harassment movement, is accused of groping a male staffer from another lawmaker's office, according to a report published Thursday.
Politico reported that the former staffer, Daniel Fierro of Cerritos, said Garcia, a Democrat from Bell Gardens, cornered him after the annual Assembly softball game in 2014 while he was cleaning up the dugout. He said Garcia was visibly intoxicated. He said Garcia, who appeared to be drunk, stroked his back, squeezed his buttocks and tried to grab his crotch before he was able to leave. Garcia has accepted that she did attend the event in question but rejected allegations sexual misconduct. She issued a statement saying she could not recall the previous incident but welcomed an investigation into the accusations. "I can also say I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values".
Garcia was elected in 2012 and has carved out a name as a champion of women's issues and environmental health for poor communities and chairs the Women's Caucus.
She was one of the woman who signed an open letter in 2017 decrying sexual harassment of women by powerful men in California government.
In her latest post on Twitter, Garcia tried to explain the meaning of "consent". Garcia told the New York Times in 2017 that she was one of the women sexually harassed in the capitol during the course of her work, which fueled her passion and drove her to fight against those who subject women to unwanted advances.
"She came back and was whispering real close and I could smell the booze and see she was pretty far gone, " he said. "I think our public also expects us to hold ourselves to a higher standard". She has filed papers to run for re-election in the June 5 primary, but also has been talked about as a potential state Senate candidate. At first he was concerned about her falling over.
She spotted him and said,"Where are you going?" the lobbyist said.
"When she crossed that line, that's when I was like, this is something completely different than I thought it was".
"I have female colleagues who have been through way worse than me", Fierro told Time Magazine. They confirmed to Politico that he had done so. Fierro at the time of the incident was 25 years old. He said he never felt threatened by Garcia, nor did he fear any imminent retaliation, and he noted that he had no trouble extricating himself from the encounter. She added the #MeToo and #WeSaidEnough to the tweet.
A lobbyist who has spoken to Politico, on the condition of anonymity, has also claimed that he too had suffered harassment at the hands of Garcia. "I was four inches from her, eyeball to eyeball - and I said, 'That ain't gonna happen'". "But the power dynamic was there". He related instances in the past where Garcia had asked him out only to be turned down. "People had an impression of Cristina", he said. "It's an awkwardly humbling experience, but I am proud of this work and the company I am in". That is up to the legislature to determine, he said. He told The Post he does not have a position on what the outcome should be for Garcia. "It's about finding out the truth and creating a culture that makes it safe for everybody".