SAN DIEGO -- Mayor Bob Filner will resign from office as part of a mediation deal reached in his sexual harassment lawsuit, sources familiar with the negotiations said Thursday.
Filner’s decision to resign comes after three days of closed-door mediation and after six weeks of scandal in the city. At least 18 women have publicly accused Filner of sexual harassment, including one former aide who filed the lawsuit.
In exchange for his resignation, the city will pay some, if not all, of Filner’s share of any damages awarded in the lawsuit, said the sources, who spoke on the condition anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. The City Council is set to vote on the settlement in a closed session Friday.
Filner, a Democrat, was seen Wednesday night loading boxes into an SUV parked outside City Hall -- and driven by a San Diego police officer, part of the mayor’s security detail -- after saying farewell to his staff and cleaning out his office.
For weeks, even with an avalanche of negative publicity, Filner had resisted calls that he resign. He apologized for misconduct toward women and entered two weeks of behavioral therapy. But nothing cooled the controversy.
In response to efforts to remove him, Filner said in a statement: “Now is not the time to go backwards — back to the time middle-class jobs and neighborhood infrastructure were sacrificed to downtown special interests. We need to continue to move forward.”
All nine council members and numerous other officials had called for Filner’s resignation.
City Atty. Jan Goldsmith had said last week that he was working on “exit plans” for Filner. His office was preparing, “as a last resort,” to seek a restraining order against Filner to bar him from City Hall on grounds that he created a hostile working environment for women.
A special election must be held to fill the mayor’s post within 90 days. Filner will be the fourth of the last seven San Diego mayors to leave midterm, all for different reasons.
Pete Wilson resigned in 1983 after being elected to the U.S. Senate. Roger Hedgecock was ousted in 1985 by his felony conviction for conspiracy and perjury. Dick Murphy resigned in 2005 because he thought it best for the city to have a fresh start in dealing with its pension deficit mess.
The end of the mediation came late Wednesday afternoon after three days of negotiations that included Filner, his three attorneys, Goldsmith, two deputy city attorneys and two City Council members. The Monday session was attended by Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, who filed a sexual harassment suit against Filner and the city on behalf of Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner’s former director of communications.
After the lawsuit was filed, the City Council voted not to pay Filner’s legal bills and threatened to sue him to recover any damages assessed against the city.
Filner, 70, was elected in November, the city’s first Democratic mayor in two decades. Almost immediately his confrontational, abrasive style resulted in friction with City Council members and business leaders.
Filner made a brief appearance at City Hall to talk to his staff Wednesday afternoon before returning to the last mediation session. He refused to answer questions from the press.
“Nice to see you guys,” he told reporters.
He returned later to clean out his office.