San Diego Mayor Bob Filner's announcement that he will seek therapy -- but not resign -- amid sexual harassment charges was denounced by critics on Friday.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing one of Filner's alleged victims, said she was suspicious about his motives for getting therapy.
"I view his decision to seek therapy as a ploy to stay in power and to try to gain sympathy," she said in a statement. "If he feels that he needs therapy, he should resign first and then seek it. It is ridiculous to think that he needs therapy in order to understand that women deserve respect and should not be treated like pieces of meat."
Others also urged him to step down.
"Bob Filner’s announcement that he will be taking a leave of absence prolongs the pain he is inflicting on our city at a time when San Diegans are calling for an end to this civic nightmare," Council President Todd Gloria said in a statement.
Gloria said that although Filner has acknowledged his "serious disorder," he must hold himself to a higher standard because he is a government leader.
"Since the City Charter hasn't clearly spelled out how to handle this situation, it requires us to ask in the strongest terms possible for the Mayor's resignation in a manner that allows the continuation of effective government for all San Diegans," the statement said. "The time for indecisiveness and inaction is over. I again call upon the Mayor to resign."
At a news conference at City Hall on Friday, Filner, 70, continued to refuse calls for his resignation. He said he would undergo two weeks of intensive therapy starting Aug. 5. He planned to return to work full time Aug. 19, but will continue to be briefed morning and evening on city business.
Filner did not answer questions at the news conference.
Filner is the first Democratic mayor in 20 years, elected on promises of improving neighborhood services and breaking up the “old boy’s network” that he says has run City Hall for decades.
He acknowledged Friday that, "I must become a better person."
"I hope in becoming a better person, I hope I can be in a position to be forgiven," he said.
But other council members also said they did not approve of his announcement on Friday.
“Two weeks of therapy will not end decades of bad behavior,” Councilman Kevin Faulconer said.
Seven women have accused Filner of sexual harassment. One former top aide filed a lawsuit Monday.
Veronica “Ronne” Froman, a retired Navy rear admiral who became the city’s chief operating officer under Filner’s mayoral predecessor, Jerry Sanders, said that during a meeting with Filner while he was in Congress, Filner “stopped me and he got very close to me. And he ran his finger up my cheek like this and he whispered to me, ‘Do you have a man in your life?'”
Froman said she rebuffed Filner but was so rattled that she told two men who were at the same meeting to “never leave me alone in a room with Bob Filner again.”
Joyce Gattas, dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts at San Diego State, told KPBS that Filner held her tightly, kissed her and put his hands on her knee. She also said she had seen Filner make “sexual comments to others.”
Also this week, a school psychologist and a political consultant accused Filner of inappropriate touching. The former said he tried to kiss her; the latter said he patted her buttocks.
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