L.A. Now

Mayor Filner to complete 'voluntary' therapy earlier than anticipated

SAN DIEGO — Mayor Bob Filner will complete his "voluntary" behavioral modification therapy on Saturday, earlier than anticipated, his lawyers said Friday.

Filner will take "some personal time" and be unavailable for comment, said a statement by the law firm of Payne & Fears, which is assisting Filner in his defense against a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former staff member. He is set to return to City Hall on Aug. 19.

Filner will continue therapy as an outpatient, his lawyers said.

Filner had said he would be in the intensive therapy program the weeks of Aug. 5 and 12. But he reportedly started the program earlier than announced.

The law firm's announcement came as the last two City Council members called for Filner to bow to numerous demands that he resign and "allow the healing of our city to begin."

The call by Marti Emerald and Myrtle Cole, both Democrats, makes it unanimous: All nine council members want Filner gone because of accusations that he sexually harassed numerous women.

Also Friday, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a longtime ally, issued an open letter addressed to "Dear Bob," asking him to resign and seek long-term treatment. Boxer's letter had a personal tone, noting their long careers working for many of the same political causes.

"Bob, you have already hurt so many people," Boxer wrote. "To avoid hurting your victims and the people of San Diego more than you already have, you should step down immediately."

Filner, 70, elected in November as San Diego's first Democratic mayor in two decades, is hoping to ride out a tide of sexual misconduct accusations and demands by fellow politicians and others for him to resign.

Some 14 women have accused Filner of making unwanted and unpleasant sexual advances. One, former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson, has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in San Diego County Superior Court seeking unspecified damages.

The accusations of the other 13 share a similar scenario: that they met Filner at a public event or while asking for his help on a public issue and that he made sexually inappropriate comments, asked them for dates, and, in some cases, kissed or touched them.

Among the 13 are prominent businesswomen, a retired Navy admiral, a political consultant, two college officials, a nurse seeking help for a wounded Marine and a longtime city employee.

Emerald and Cole said the breaking point came when two former military personnel, both victims of sexual assault during their military service, accused Filner of making crude advances starting at a conference designed to help women who have suffered sexual assault.

Filner's alleged victims are being interviewed by San Diego County Sheriff's Department investigators and personnel from the state attorney general's office.

With reporters scrambling to find where Filner was receiving the therapy, the most likely candidate was the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles.

Founded in 1995, the Pico-Robertson clinic specializes in helping men who cannot "take a month away from work to deal with their compulsive behavior" but want a "treatment program that could cover the same territory in half the time."

The clinic's website says it is "the nation's only comprehensive two-week intensive treatment program for sexual addiction."

The institute has a program for the weeks of Aug. 5 and 12, when Filner announced that he would be undergoing therapy to begin to change a long pattern of disrespectful, abusive behavior toward women.

A spokeswoman for the clinic declined Friday to confirm or deny that Filner was a client, citing federal laws about confidentiality of medical information.

The clinic attempts to shield the privacy of its clients. Staffers this week ordered television reporters parked near the facility to move as clients were arriving in a van.

In a video on the institute's website, founder Rob Weiss, a clinical social worker and sex addiction therapist, said the clinic helps people who have successful lives that are being disrupted by compulsive behavior involving sex.

"We can help restore some integrity to your life," Weiss said.

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