California Democrat Cristina Garcia, who has been a leader of the #MeToo movement in her state and was featured as one of Time’s persons of the year, has been accused of sexual misconduct by two men, reports the Associated Press.
If true, these allegations will come as a huge shock to victims of sexual abuse and misconduct who have overcome countless obstacles to relive their experiences over the last few months, ever since allegations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein were first published in the New York Times.
According to reports, Garcia, who has been a California Democratic Assemblywoman since 2012 and a strong advocate of the #MeToo movement, has been accused of groping a male staffer from another lawmaker’s office, as well as a lobbyist who spoke to Politico but did not want to be named.
Daniel Fierro, who was a staffer for the Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon back in 2014, told AP that Garcia “stroked his back, squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch in a dugout after a legislative softball game.”
Fierro reportedly did not speak about the encounter to anyone at the time because he feared nobody would believe him, considering Garcia is a powerful lawmaker who chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Natural Resources Committee, according to the Washington Post.
But last month, Fierro informed Calderon about the alleged groping incident, who then took the matter to the Assembly. What prompted him to speak now, says Fierro, is the fact that he could not bear to see Garcia being the leader of a movement which has helped hundreds of women speak out against traumatic sexual experiences.
“If the person leading the charge on it isn’t credible it just ends up hurting the credibility of these very real stories,” Fierro said.
Garcia is currently under investigation by the Assembly.
Another man, who works as a lobbyist in California, told Politico that Garcia “made crude sexual comments and tried to grab his crotch at a 2017 fundraiser.”
Garcia did not refute the allegations completely, although she claimed through her spokesperson Teala Schaff that she had “zero recollection” of the incident mentioned by Fierro and would be willing to participate in any investigation to determine what actually transpired.
“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.”
Garcia has been an outspoken critic of sexually predatory behavior since the #MeToo movement gathered pace and refused to work with Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, who had previously been disciplined for groping a colleague.