SAN DIEGO - Mayor Bob Filner, apologizing for disrespectful, intimidating behavior toward women, said Friday that he is entering a therapy clinic for two weeks to learn how to behave better.
Filner, at a City Hall news conference, said his leave will begin Aug. 5.
As he has in the past, Filner apologized to his staff members and constituents for his behavior but stopped short of admitting that he sexually harassed women.
His behavior, he said, has undermined his political career spent "fighting for equality and justice for all people."
"The behavior I have engaged in is wrong," Filner said. "However, words alone are not enough. ... And I must take responsibility for my conduct."
The conference was interrupted when the mayor's microphone went dead. Filner left the room, with reporters still awaiting more details.
Filner’s surprise announcement came amid increasing calls for his resignation due to an increasing number of allegations that he has sexually harassed women, often in public settings. Seven women have made such allegations, one, a former top aide, has filed a lawsuit.
Thursday night, the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee voted to ask the 70-year-old Democrat to resign. Elected in November, he is the city’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years, elected on promises to improve neighborhood services and break up the “old boy’s network” that he says has run City Hall for decades.
Francine Busby, chairwoman of the party's San Diego County central committee, said Filner's resignation would be in the best interests of the city and would give him time to seek the professional help he needs for his behavioral problems.
The committee, at a hastily called meeting after Filner's accusers became public, voted 34-6 to ask for his resignation. A week earlier, when the accusations against the mayor were still being made anonymously, the committee had declined to join with those urging Filner to resign.
"There is no place in the Democratic Party for those who harass, intimidate or do not fully respect women," City Council President Todd Gloria, a Democrat, said after Thursday night's vote.
Filner did not immediately respond to the central committee's vote. But he has repeatedly said he will not resign and that he deserves due process.
Friday morning, the chairwoman of the national Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, called for his resignation “for the good of the city of San Diego.”
All seven of his accusers have called for him to resign. Six of nine members of the City Council have done the same, as have several prominent San Diego Democrats, including Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and Reps. Scott Peters and Susan Davis.
The City Charter, however, contains no provision for impeachment. Without a voluntary resignation, the only means for ousting a mayor are a recall election or conviction of a felony.
Filner, a member of Congress for 20 years before being elected mayor in November, has said that while his behavior toward women has been bad, he does not believe he has committed sexual harassment. He insists he will be vindicated and has hired an attorney.
Francis Barraza, executive director of the local Republican Party, commended the Democrats for calling for Filner's resignation but chided them for allegedly ignoring Filner's behavior in the past: "Had they not looked the other way for decades, for crass political reasons, this entire tragic episode could have been avoided."
Filner appeared at two public events Thursday, dodging reporters' questions. At one event, he joked that the Barrio Logan neighborhood had never seen so many reporters.
Filner repeated to reporters that he deserves due process, a call that his supporters have also adopted.
The latest women to accuse Filner of making unwanted sexual advances were a retired Navy admiral, a San Diego State University dean, a leader in the city’s tourism industry, and head of a group of business owners who are tenants of the San Diego Port District.