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Hotline set up for sex harassment reports against San Diego mayor

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has rejected calls from prominent former supporters to resign, but he apologized for mistreating women, saying, "I need help."
(Associated Press / City of San Diego)

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has established a telephone hotline for anyone wishing to report sexual misconduct allegations against Mayor Bob Filner.

Filner, battling accusations of sexual harassment of staff members and constituents, said late Friday that he’s fine with the idea of a hotline because it might lead to an objective investigation rather than just “press conferences and innuendo.”

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If an investigation is warranted, the Sheriff’s Department will be the lead agency, not the San Diego Police Department, which reports to the 70-year-old Democrat, officials said.

Under state law, victims of sexual abuse are provided anonymity and can be accompanied by a representative or advocate during interviews, sheriff’s officials said.

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Sheriff Bill Gore said that “these are extremely sensitive matters and should there be an investigation, [the sheriff’s] department as the lead agency will not be providing any details as the investigation proceeds.”

Announcement of the hotline came as three dozen people rallied outside City Hall to talk about their efforts to recall Filner and seek volunteers to gather the signatures necessary to put a recall on the ballot.

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KFMB radio talk-show host Mike Slater, one of the leaders of the recall effort, told the gathering that Filner is “not going to relinquish power until we the people remind him of who he works for.”

Mike Pallamary, land surveyor and longtime civic activist, said Filner has been divisive and disruptive in his seven months in office and has “brought shame on the office of mayor.”

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The recall rally came just 24 hours after a rally of a similar size on the same spot, that one by a group of Filner supporters who vowed to fight any recall effort.

Ten days ago, three former supporters of the mayor held a news conference to accuse him of sexual harassment and demand his resignation. Filner responded by apologizing for crass behavior toward women and promising to change his behavior and apologize to any women he has offended.

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But he has refused to resign and has given indications he plans to fight any attempt to oust him. He insists that his behavior, while deplorable, is not sexual harassment and that he is being denied due process by having anonymous allegations made against him.

The hotline number is (619) 481-0220.

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tony.perry@latimes.com


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