More sexual harassment allegations leveled against San Diego mayor
SAN DIEGO – Mayor Bob Filner admitted today via a DVD statement that he would “change my behavior” toward women.
Filner chose not to speak to the media face-to-face to answer allegations that he has sexual harassed an undisclosed number of women at City Hall. Three of his most prominent supporters -- former San Diego City Councilmember Donna Frye and attorneys Attorney Cory Briggs and Marc Gonzalez – this morning called a news conference to level those charges at the mayor and they urged him to resign.
The mayor did not indicate any plans to resign, but admitted that he had a problem and that he was seeking professional treatment and undergoing city-mandated training regarding sexual harassment.
"I begin today by apologizing to you. I have diminished the office to which you elected me. I have reached into my heart and soul and realize I must and will change my behavior," Filner said in the DVD.
"As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them,” he said.
"I am also humbled to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach. In addition, my staff and I will participate in sexual harassment training provided by the city. Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one who can make these changes," Filner said.
Filner, 70, showed none of the cockiness that is his trademark during his DVD chat and seemed to beg for a second chance.
"I only ask that you give me an opportunity to prove I am capable of change, so that the vision I have for our city’s future can be realized," Filner said.
Filner's statement did not sit well with City Councilmember Scott Sherman.
"I am calling on Mayor Filner to resign. He has admitted that he is guilty of sexually harassing women and his actions are unacceptable under any circumstance. Unfortunately this is the latest and most disturbing of a series of scandals that make him incapable of leading our city," Sherman said.
Meanwhile, former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña told Voice of San Diego that she warned local Democratic Party officials several years ago about Filner’s behavior toward women.
“I blew the whistle on this two years ago to the Democratic Party leadership,” Saldaña said.
Saldaña told VOSD that in summer 2011 six prominent women in local politics, business and education told her that Filner had physically or verbally harassed them. Saldaña had been exploring what turned out to be an unsuccessful bid for Congress and the conversations came in the context of the 2012 elections.
Saldaña said she contacted former party Chairman Jess Durfee with the allegations and Durfee was among a group of Democratic leaders who met with Filner to discuss them that summer. She said nothing happened. Durfee could not be reached for comment, VOSD said.
“As disgraceful as Bob’s behavior has been, it’s been tolerated by our Democratic Party leadership,” she said.
The sexual harassment allegations are just the tip of the iceberg involving Filner, since he was elected mayor last year. Since he took office, Filner has come under fire for his lavish recent trip to Paris, controversial dealings with developers that reportedly are being investigated by federal officials, his abrasive management style, clashes with the City Council and other allegations.
Just this week, Filner's fiancée who he had called the "first lady of San Diego," went public with her news that she had broken off her relationship with the mayor.
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