Investigator: Lawmaker 'overly familiar' with staffer

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - An investigator says a state assemblywoman who was once at the forefront of the #MeToo movement was "overly familiar" with a former legislative staff member who accused her of misconduct but did not retaliate against him for filing a complaint.

The investigator repeated earlier findings that there's not enough evidence to substantiate allegations that Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia groped Daniel Fierro at a legislative softball game in 2014.

The findings were outlined in a letter dated Wednesday from Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, which says Rendon will take "appropriate remedial action." His spokesman, Kevin Liao, said that action hasn't been determined.

Fierro first complained Garcia groped him earlier this year. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker denies the allegation, and the Assembly said in May an outside investigator found no evidence substantiating it.

Fierro said the investigator didn't interview at least one witness he reported and alleged that Garcia retaliated against him by trying to prevent him from getting consulting contracts. Based on his appeal, the top Democrat and Republican on the Assembly Rules Committee authorized "further investigation."

Rendon's letter outlining the findings says investigators concluded Garcia was inebriated, grabbed Fierro's arm for support and put her hand on his back. It says she was "overly familiar" in a way she would not have if she was sober.

But it says the evidence doesn't support a finding that she touched Fierro on his buttock or genitals or that the encounter was sexual.

Garcia says in a statement she disagrees with some of the findings but did not elaborate.

"I again apologize if language I used in the past made anyone feel uncomfortable," she said.

Garcia was once a leader of the #MeToo movement against sexual misconduct. She took a three-month leave of absence after the groping allegation surfaced and returned to work last month after some of the initial investigation's findings became public. Although she was cleared of groping Fierro, the investigator found she used vulgar language in violation of the Assembly's sexual harassment policy.

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