Latest California #MeToo case spurs confidentiality concerns

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia — a leader in the #MeToo movement — took a voluntary unpaid leave of absence Friday amid an investigation into whether she groped a former legislative staff member in 2014.

It’s the latest claim against a lawmaker to go public. And the way it became public is drawing criticism from the man alleging the misconduct.

Daniel Fierro thought his claim would remain confidential when he shared his story last month with his old boss, Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, a Democrat. Calderon followed state legislative protocol and took it to the Assembly’s Rules Committee, which investigates claims.

Days after Calderon made the report, Fierro said, to his surprise, several journalists and a politically connected acquaintance called him to ask about his claim.

“That was what really disturbed me,” Fierro told The Associated Press. “The process is supposed to be confidential in part so that people feel comfortable they can make complaints.”

Tom White, chief of staff for Calderon, said neither Calderon nor anyone in his office leaked the complaint alleging Garcia, a Los Angeles-area Democrat, groped Fierro in the dugout after a legislative softball game in August 2014. The head of the Rules Committee, Assemblyman Ken Cooley, a Democrat, said the committee keeps all complaints confidential.

“The Assembly Rules Human Resources process for receiving, evaluating and investigating complaints is entirely confidential, and confidentiality has been carefully observed by those responsible for carrying out such actions,” he said. “I know of no reason to be concerned about the confidentiality of our processes and procedures.

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