An Assembly investigation into allegations that Bell Gardens Democrat Cristina Garcia groped a former legislative staffer concluded that the accusation “could not be substantiated,” officials said Thursday, although the probe found she had violated Assembly policy by using “vulgar language.”
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, said that despite the “most egregious allegations” not being substantiated, Garcia still “engaged in a pattern of behavior that must be addressed.”
“Therefore, I am removing Ms. Garcia from all committee memberships,” Rendon said. “I am also requiring Ms. Garcia to complete sensitivity training conducted by an outside expert, participate in sessions with an Employee Assistance Program counselor and receive individual training on the Assembly’s existing Sexual Harassment and Violence Prevention policy.”
In a statement to the Sacramento Bee, Garcia said she is ready to return to work. She took a leave of absence while the investigation was being conducted.
“Earlier today I learned that the allegations of unwanted sexual harassment against me were found to be unsubstantiated,” Garcia said. “I look forward to returning to work and getting back to the business of representing my constituents.”
Garcia gained national attention last year for her vocal role in the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. A picture of Garcia was included in Time magazine’s “Persons of the Year” issue in December that honored “Silence Breakers” who spoke out against sexual harassment.
The former legislative staffer, Daniel Fierro, said last year that Garcia cornered him at an Assembly softball game in Sacramento in 2014, squeezed his buttocks and tried to touch his crotch. Fierro, who was on the staff of Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, said he managed to break away from Garcia and walk away.
Fierro did not report the confrontation at the time, but told Calderon in January. Calderon referred the matter to the Assembly Rules Committee, which began an investigation.
Garcia said at the time she had no recollection of engaging in any such behavior.
Fierro told the Bee he was disappointed by the results of the investigation and said he is working with his attorney to file an appeal. He told the paper he provided the Assembly with names of witnesses who were never interviewed or even contacted.
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