Politics

LA-area Assemblywoman taking unpaid leave amid sexual misconduct claims

In this June 22, 2016 file photo, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D- Bell Gardens, speaks at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Garcia, the head of California's legislative women's caucus and a leading figure in the anti-sexual harassment movement is herself the subject of a sexual misconduct claim, Politico reported Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.
In this June 22, 2016 file photo, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D- Bell Gardens, speaks at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. Garcia, the head of California's legislative women's caucus and a leading figure in the anti-sexual harassment movement is herself the subject of a sexual misconduct claim, Politico reported Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.
Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, a leader in the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement and the head of the state's Legislative Women's Caucus, said Friday she will take voluntary, unpaid leave following misconduct claims against her.

"Upon reflection of the details alleged, I am certain I did not engage in the behavior I am accused of," Garcia said in a statement. "However, as I've said before, any claims about sexual harassment must be taken seriously, and I believe elected officials should be held to a higher standard of accountability."

Garcia was accused of groping Daniel Fierro, a male staffer from another lawmaker's office, at a legislative softball game in 2014, according to the Associated Press and first reported by Politico Thursday.

A second claim from an unnamed lobbyist was also reported by Politico.

"I implore the Assembly Rules Committee to conduct a thorough and expeditious investigation, and I look forward to getting back to work on behalf of my constituents and for the betterment of California," Garcia wrote.

Garcia has been a vocal leader of the #Me-too movement that's prompted two California lawmakers to resign and put another on suspension.

She says she's taking a leave of absence to avoid distraction and any appearance of influence over the investigation. Fierro declined to comment on Garcia's decision.