Earlier this month, one of the most prominent voices behind the #MeToo movement was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal of her own. California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who was featured on Time Magazine's #MeToo Person of the Year cover, was accused by two men of inappropriate sexual conduct. Daniel Fierro, a former staffer for fellow California lawmaker Ian Calderon, alleges that Garcia—whom he said appeared to be drunk—groped him following a softball game. Soon after, a lobbyist told Politico that Garcia harassed him as well, and, after he rejected her, physically confronted him, saying she had set a goal to fuck him.
Garcia denies the allegations, but on February 10, she announced that she'd be taking a voluntary unpaid leave of absence while the accusations are investigated.
Then, this past Saturday, four of Garcia's former staffers filed a complaint against her in the State Assembly for sexual harassment. David John Kernick, a former field representative for Garcia, said she pressed her employees to play spin the bottle, and then when he complained, she fired him.
From the Washington Post:
The former staffers alleged that Garcia talked about her sex life in front of employees, drank alcohol at work and told staffers that they were expendable, Gilleon told The Post. One of those anonymous staffers was Kernick. Gilleon said his clients decided to come forward after Fierro went public with his allegations. He also said he is prepared to take legal action against any retaliation against his client.
“They decided to come out not for themselves … but also to let everybody know what it was really like working for her,” Gilleon said. “Had Fierro not come out, my clients would not have talked.”
In a statement posted on Facebook on Wednesday, Garcia said that she “will address each of these issues individually after the investigations into these allegations are closed.”
She further wrote: “I will add that in order for legislators to accomplish all we want for the people of our districts and the people of California, we need talented staff who feel empowered to do their work … I am confident I have consistently treated my staff fairly and respectfully.”
Since her election in 2012, Garcia has been an advocate for women and other survivors of sexual assault. In 2016, she co-authored a California bill that expanded the definition of rape to include all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault. Last year, she introduced a bill that made removing a condom without consent prosecutable as rape.