SAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Bob Filner apologized Thursday for his treatment of women but did not resign from office, as some people have demanded.
The 70-year-old Democrat vowed to change his behavior, admitting “I need help.”
“I have reached into my heart and soul and realize I must and will change my behavior,” Filner said, indicating he will not resign. He said he and his staff will take the sexual harassment training offered by the city.
“If my behavior doesn’t change, I cannot succeed in leading this city,” Filner said.
On a DVD given to the media, Filner said: “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.”
Filner, elected in November, said he knows that San Diego residents “have every right to be disappointed” in him but asked 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 was not available to answer questions about the allegations.
Earlier Thursday, three longtime Filner friends and supporters — former City Councilwoman Donna Frye and lawyers Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs — called on him to resign for what one called “truly reprehensible” behavior toward several women on his staff.
Frye, her voice breaking, said the women “are too scared to speak.” Briggs said his message to the women is, “When you're ready to file lawsuits, I'll be standing in court.”
“The mayor is in control of the script,” Gonzalez said. “The next chapter will largely be defined by his response.”
Gonzalez said late Thursday that he, Frye, and Briggs would not comment on Filner’s statement until Friday.
The mayor was particularly stung by Frye’s call for his resignation. “When a friend like Donna Frye is compelled to call for my resignation, I’m clearly doing something wrong,” Filner said.
Even as he issued his apology, Filner sought to indicate his support for anti-sex harassment measures.
“It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong,” Filner said.