LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/AP) — A California assemblywoman who has been accused of sexual misconduct says she’s taking a voluntary, unpaid leave of absence while the claim is investigated.
Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia of Bell Gardens announced her leave on Friday, a day after the allegation became public. Daniel Fierro, a former staff member for another lawmaker, says Garcia groped him in 2014 after a legislative softball game.
Garcia says she is “certain” she did not engage in such behavior.
“Upon reflection of the details alleged, I am certain I did not engage in the behavior I am accused of,” Garcia said. “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 said taking the unpaid leave allows her “not to serve as a distraction or in any way influence the process of this investigation.”
Garcia has been a vocal leader of the #MeToo 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.
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