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San Diego Mayor Filner sued by ex-aide, who alleges sexual harassment

Sexual MisconductPoliticsLocal Government

SAN DIEGO -- Mayor Bob Filner’s former director of communications filed a lawsuit Monday alleging that he sexually harassed her, put her frequently in a headlock and said “crude and disgusting” things about sex.

The lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed in San Diego County Superior Court by famed attorney Gloria Allred on behalf of Irene McCormack Jackson, a longtime journalist and employee of the San Diego Port District who became the Democratic mayor's director of communications because "she believed in him.”

Jackson, 57, is the first alleged victim of Filner to go public with accusations. Jackson now works in a different job at City Hall, not on the mayor’s staff.

Three ex-supporters two weeks ago accused the mayor of sexual harassment of staffers and constituents but declined to provide names.

Jackson and Allred called on Filner, 70, a Democrat, to resign.

“A man who lacks character makes a mockery of his ideas,” said Jackson, who took a $50,000 pay cut to go from the Port District to a $125,000-a-year job with Filner.

Allred said Filner needs to stop “treating women as pieces of meat.” She said his video apology was inadequate and that his statement that “I need help” is not sufficient.

“Do you need help to know that making vile and disgusting sexual comments is wrong,” Allred said. Jackson did not take questions.

Jackson said Filner created an “intimidating and hostile” work environment for other women as well.

Allred said Filner often asked Jackson when they could be alone and consummate their relationship and asked her to come to work without panties.

Filner has refused to resign and has said that his behavior toward women, while wrong, does not qualify as sexual harassment. He has hired an attorney with his own money to fight the allegations.

At a separate news conference, City Council President Todd Gloria and Councilman Kevin Faulconer repeated their call for Filner to resign.

Gloria, a Democrat,  announced that the council is undertaking investigations into Filner’s use of a credit card during a trip to Paris, his dealings with a land developer, and his absence during a key vote about the city’s pension plan.

The developer contributed $100,000 to two pet civic projects of the mayor’s before receiving approval for a condominium project planned by the developer. The mayor later ordered the money returned and denied there was a quid pro quo.

Gloria and Faulconer said important issues – such as developing a plan to keep police officers and firefighters from leaving for other jobs – are looming before the city and that a lack of leadership in the mayor’s office is a detriment.

“We will get through this,” said Faulconer, a Republican. “We've done it before.”

Said Gloria: “We cannot effectively, efficiently run America’s finest city with this mayor in office.”

Asked about Filner’s selection of Walt Ekard as interim chief operating officer, Gloria said he respects Ekard but that, “the city doesn’t have a Walt Ekard problem, it has a Mayor Filner problem.”

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Twitter: @LATsandiego

tony.perry@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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