“To see her be the face of the movement and have that draped around her, it’s incredibly hypocritical.”
Here’s a hint: If you’re going to help lead a movement against sexual harassment, don’t sexually harass anyone.
California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia gained fame after she led the #MeToo movement at the California Capitol. Time magazine even featured her in its the “Silence Breakers” issue at the end of 2017.
Now a former staffer has accused her of sexual misconduct when he participated at a legislative softball game with her.
But Daniel Fierro of Cerritos told POLITICO that in 2014, as a 25-year-old staffer to Assemblyman Ian Calderon, he was groped by Garcia, a powerful Democratic lawmaker who chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Natural Resources Committee.
He said she cornered him alone after the annual Assembly softball game in Sacramento as he attempted to clean up the dugout. Fierro, who said Garcia appeared inebriated, said she began stroking his back, then squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch before he extricated himself and quickly left.
From The Sacramento Bee:
Garcia was “clearly inebriated,” Fierro said, and grabbed his arm. At first he thought she was just trying to steady herself, but then Garcia grabbed his back, he said, and began to stroke it.
“Her hand was there and it slipped down to my butt and she tried to squeeze,” Fierro said. He said he knew then that it had crossed a line and he spun away from her to leave. As he was walking past her, Fierro said, Garcia made a grab for his crotch.
“The entire encounter lasted 30-45 seconds,” he said. “I was in shock. I was embarrassed.”
Fierro told people what happened after the incident:
Lerna Shirinian, the communications director for Calderon, said “I remember it very clearly, he told me as soon as it happened..he was in shock, I was in shock — but the culture was very different back then,’’ Shirinian said, noting the admission was in confidence and she had to respect her friend’s decision not to report it.
Another former legislative staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear of reprisals, said Garcia was known to speak about sexual issues to young staffers in the office, sometimes in graphic detail, and occasionally to be a hard drinker in Sacramento.
He confirmed hearing Fierro’s account, saying he remembered the incident because Garcia was partying and drinking more heavily at the legislative softball game in celebration of her birthday. Records show the Assembly Legislative Softball game was August 20, 2014; Garcia’s birthday is August 22.
Fierro told the Bee that he came forward after he heard others had the same experience with Garcia:
He said he did not want Garcia’s lack of credibility to damage efforts to address sexual misconduct at the Capitol, a campaign that launched in October when she and 146 other women published an open letter slamming a “pervasive” culture of harassment in California politics. Garcia also heads the California Legislative Women’s Caucus, which has been pushing legislative leaders to overhaul sexual harassment complaint and discipline policies.
“To see her be the face of the movement and have that draped around her, it’s incredibly hypocritical,” Fierro said. “I don’t think it helps the movement. I don’t think it helps the victims.”
Last month, people asked Fierro what happened with Garcia and went to his boss before it got out. Calderon gave him support and next thing Fierro knew the Assemby contacted him. Calderon said they must take every allgation seriously and felt he had an obligation to report it.
Politico noted that a Sacramento lobbyist “accosted him in May 2017, when she cornered him, made a graphic sexual proposal, and tried to grab his crotch at a political fundraiser.” He explained exactly what happened:
The lobbyist, who represents a major industry association, said that Garcia appeared to have been drinking heavily at a fundraiser hosted by Governor Jerry Brown for state Senator Josh Newman at the de Veres bar in Sacramento. He said he was heading out the door in part to avoid the assemblywoman — who had been increasingly “flirtatious” and had called him on a few occasions before for late night drinks which he repeatedly declined.
She spotted him and said,“Where are you going?” the lobbyist said.
“She came back and was whispering real close and I could smell the booze and see she was pretty far gone,’’ he said. “She looked at me for a second and said, “I’ve set a goal for myself to fuck you.”
At that point, Garcia “stepped in front of me and reaches out and is grabbing for my crotch,’’ he said. That was “the line in the sand,” according to the lobbyist, and he stopped her. “I was four inches from her, eyeball to eyeball — and I said, ‘That ain’t gonna happen.’”
This is another prime example that women can sexually harass, assault, and rape men. It disturbed me to read that Fierro said a reason why he didn’t say anything had to do with sexual harassment training he received because it “never included examples where the victim was a man and the perpetrator was a woman, so he ‘didn’t have a way to frame it’ in his mind.”DONATE
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