SAN DIEGO--Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has called a noon news conference, hours after local Democratic Party leaders voted to ask him to resign and four more women came forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.
Updated 12:01 p.m.: Awaiting the mayor.
Updated 12:04 p.m. Filner says his behavior is wrong. "My failure to respect women" is unacceptable. He said he's apologized to staffers.
Updated 12:05 p.m.:On Aug. 5, Filner says he will enter a behavior counseling center to begin intensive therapy.
Updated 12:08 p.m.:Audio issues have stalled the press conference. Filner remains standing at podium.
Updated 12:10 p.m.: Filner has left the podium. It's unclear if he will return when the audio problems are fixed.
Updated at 12:15 p.m.: Filner is back at the podium. Repeats that his behavior inexcusable. He apologized to the people of San Diego, his staff and supporters and mostly, to his accusers.
Updated at 12:16 p.m.: "Words alone are not enough."
Updated at 12:16 p.m.: He will be in a clinic full time, but briefed on city business. Therapy is the first step in his program. "I must become a better person."
Updated at 12:18 p.m.: He wants to be the best mayor he can be and the best person he can be. Press conference is over. Filner left the podium without taking questions, including one about whether he would resign.
A total of seven women have made such allegations.
Filner, who was elected eight months ago as the city's first Democratic mayor in two decades, has been accused of sexual misconduct that includes alleged inappropriate comments to groping women.
On Thursday night, 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 went public, voted 34 to 6 to ask for his resignation. A week earlier, when the accusations against the 70-year-old 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 has repeatedly said he will not resign and that he deserves due process.
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.
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.
The encounters with Filner were at public events, the women said.
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 SDSU, 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.
On Monday, Filner’s former director of communications, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages for Filner’s treatment of her. The lawsuit alleges he frequently put her in a headlock, made sexual comments and, on one occasion, said she should work without her panties on.
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