A prominent leader of California's #MeToo movement has been accused of inappropriately touching a 25-year-old staffer during an organised work outing.
Cristina Garcia, Democratic Assembly member for southern Los Angeles County, has been accused of sexual misconduct over an incident dating back to 2014.
Complainant Daniel Fierro alleges that Garcia cornered him in a dugout during an annual Assembly softball game held in the state capital of Sacramento. Garcia, who was allegedly inebriated at the time, stroked his back, massaged his buttocks and then attempted to put her hand towards his groin, prompting Fierro to leave.
Fierro says he immediately told his manager but did not press forward with the accusation, which only came to light after he brought it up with Assembly member Ian Calderon in January of this year. The complaint has been forwarded to California's Assembly Rules Committee, who have launched their own investigation.
Garcia has been a prominent advocate for women's rights since her election to to the California State legislature in 2012 and is one of Sacramento's most outspoken voices on gender issues. Her efforts helped pass a whistleblower protection bill earlier this year that provided support for those putting forward harassment allegations against their employers.
Her photograph also featured prominently in promotional material for the 2017 TIME 'Person of the Year, which was awarded to numerous campaigners who spoke out against sexual harassment in light of revelations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.
On Twitter she wrote of her inclusion: "I didn't know I was part of the story. That I was pictured and added to a timeline of this reckoning. It's an awkwardly humbling experience, but I am proud of this work and the company I am in." She added the #MeToo and #WeSaidEnough to the tweet.
In November, Garcia was one of hundreds of signatories who wrote a letter to the New York Times demanding an end to workplace harassment.
"Multiple people have grabbed my butt and grabbed my breasts," she wrote. "We're talking about senior lobbyists and lawmakers."
According to her spokeswoman, Garcia became aware of the specific allegations on 23 January after she was contacted by news website, Politico. She issued a statement saying she could not recall the previous incident but welcomed an investigation into the accusations.
"Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place," she said on Thursday. "I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values."
Further allegations against Garcia have also surfaced after an unnamed lobbyist claimed she made made unwanted sexual advances towards him during a political fundraiser held for Senator Josh Newman at a bar in Sacramento in May 2017.
"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 f***you."
While an investigation into her conduct is ongoing, the original complainant said he raised the the matter due to Garcia's outspoken advocacy on sexual harassment and the potential to undermine real victims of harassment
"If the person leading the charge on it isn't credible it just ends up hurting the credibility of these very real stories," Fierro told Associated Press.
"I have female co-workers who have gone through this — and it absolutely needs to be talked about,'' he said. "The problem is when Cristina is the one, it's for everyone to roll their eyes..and it takes away from the issue...and the credibility."