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Outspoken California #MeToo advocate accused of misconduct

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - The California Legislature’s widening sexual misconduct scandal now contains allegations in opposition to a Democratic lawmaker identified for her fierce advocacy on ladies’s problems, together with an anti-sexual harassment motion that started sweeping the Capitol remaining fall.

Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia mentioned Thursday she’ll absolutely cooperate with an investigation into an allegation she groped a 25-year-old guy who labored for some other lawmaker in 2014. Daniel Fierro alleges that she stroked his again, squeezed his buttocks and tried to the touch his crotch within the dugout after a legislative softball recreation. Garcia mentioned she doesn’t recall the incident.

Fierro didn’t file it on the time however in January instructed his former boss, Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, who reported it to Assembly leaders. Speaker Anthony Rendon showed an investigation is underway on Thursday, after Politico first reported it.

“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,” he mentioned in a observation.

Garcia is the newest lawmaker, and the primary lady, within the California Legislature to stand accusations following the #MeToo motion, which started remaining fall as a social media marketing campaign utilized by tens of millions to inform private stories with sexual harassment.

About two dozen sexual harassment allegations have been made in opposition to Assembly lawmakers, team of workers and lobbyists in 2017 - probably the most inside of a unmarried 12 months since 2006 - and no less than 8 allegations are pending, consistent with paperwork launched remaining week.

Garcia’s spokeswoman Teala Schaff mentioned the assemblywoman realized Jan. 23 a grievance used to be filed however used to be given no main points and best realized the specifics of the allegations from Politico.

“Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place,” the Los Angeles-area lawmaker mentioned in a observation. “I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values.”

Fierro mentioned he determined to inform Calderon concerning the incident as a result of of Garcia’s outspokenness within the #MeToo motion, which has resulted in investigations in statehouses national.

“If the person leading the charge on it isn’t credible it just ends up hurting the credibility of these very real stories,” Fierro instructed the AP.

Garcia’s picture used to be featured in Time Magazine’s Person of the Year factor on being one of the “Silence Breakers” on sexual harassment. She briefly condemned male colleagues who have been accused of sexual misconduct remaining fall, allegations that induced two to surrender.

This Monday, she spoke at a rally out of doors the Capitol in choose of regulation signed through Gov. Jerry Brown giving legislative team of workers contributors whistleblower protections for reporting sexual misconduct or different misbehavior.

Fierro, of Cerritos, left the Assembly in 2016 and now runs a communications company. Calderon, his former boss, is now the bulk chief. Lerna Shirinian, Calderon’s communications director, mentioned Fierro instructed her concerning the incident proper after it took place.

“He was in shock, I was in shock - but the culture was very different back then,” Shirinian instructed Politico.

Politico additionally reported lobbyist who declined to be named claimed Garcia made crude sexual feedback and attempted to snatch his crotch at a 2017 fundraiser, an incident he didn't officially file.

Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva, co-chair of the ladies’s caucus, mentioned she used to be “shocked and disturbed” on the allegations and she's going to ask the crowd to fulfill quickly to speak about Garcia’s destiny as chief.

Fierro and the lobbyist mentioned it gave the impression Garcia used to be under the influence of alcohol on the time of the encounters.

In a November interview with AP about alcohol-fueled fundraisers and different after-work occasions which can be a component of common industry in Sacramento, Garcia mentioned blaming alcohol isn’t a suitable excuse for sexually irrelevant conduct. It’s males who selected to misbehave, no longer the social occasions themselves, that create the issues, she mentioned.

“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,” she mentioned. “I think our public also expects us to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

 

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