Filner to end therapy earlier than announced, return to San Diego

Mayor Bob Filner at a July 26 news conference announcing his plan to seek professional help for his sexual harassment issues.
(Bill Wechter / Getty Images)
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SAN DIEGO -Mayor Bob Filner will complete his behavioral therapy treatment Saturday, earlier than previously announced, his lawyers said Friday.

Filner will take “personal time” next week and be unavailable for comment, said a statement from lawyer James Payne, whose Irvine firm, Payne & Fears, is assisting Filner’s defense against a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former staff member.

Filner had said he would be in an intensive therapy program the weeks of Aug. 5 and 12. But he reportedly entered the therapy program earlier than announced. He is set to return to City Hall on Aug. 19.


He will continue therapy “on an outpatient basis,” Payne said.

Filner’s departure from the therapy program comes as television reporters were staked out at the clinic where Filner was rumored to have been receiving treatment: the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles, near Beverly Hills.

Founded in 1995, the 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’s “the nation’s only comprehensive two-week intensive treatment program for sexual addiction.”

The institute has a therapy 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.

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.

On Friday, two more City Council members - Marti Emerald and Myrtle Cole, both Democrats - called for Filner’s resignation. Their call for him to resign to “allow the healing of our city to begin” now makes it unanimous: all nine council members want him gone.

Instead, he has vowed to return to City Hall on Aug. 19 and resume his job as mayor.

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.


The breaking point for Emerald and Cole came when two military veterans, both victims of sexual assault during their military service, accused Filner of making crude advances starting at a conference designed to help women veterans who have been sexually assaulted.

A recall movement has been announced, and a rally is being planned for Aug. 19 to urge Filner to stay away from City Hall.

Also, Filner’s alleged victims are being interviewed by San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigators and the state attorney general’s office.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a longtime ally of Filner, issued an open letter Friday addressed to “Dear Bob,” asking him to resign and seek long-term treatment.


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