San Diego Mayor Bob Filner accused of forcibly kissing, groping women
SAN DIEGO -- Three ex-supporters repeated their demand for Mayor Bob Filner to resign Monday and said he forcibly kissed two constituents and grabbed the buttocks and breast of a staff member.
Filner’s behavior toward women is so egregious that women who work for him call him a “dirty old man” and coined the phrases “the Filner headlock” and “the Filner dance” to describe how he isolates women and then makes unwanted advances, attorney Marco Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said a sexual harassment claim will be filed with city officials. Also, lawsuits are a possibility, he said.
“Bob Filner is tragically unsafe for any women to approach,” an angry ex-Councilwoman Donna Frye said at a news conference outside City Hall.
Five supporters of Filner picketed the news conference, carrying signs reading “Due Process for Mayor Filner.” Filner, 70, a Democrat, elected in November, has said that while his behavior toward women has been bad, he believes an investigation will prove that he has not been guilty of sexual harassment.
Frye, Gonzalez and attorney Cory Briggs -- all longtime supporters of Filner -- declined to name the women who have made the allegations.
Briggs said they are trying to “balance the public’s right to know and the women’s right to privacy.”
Gonzalez said that once a claim is filed, investigators will talk to other mayoral staff members, and the police officers assigned to the mayor’s security detail, and find that Filner has a pattern of pushing himself on women, starting with leering comments and then escalating to forcible kissing and groping.
“This mayor cannot control himself,” Gonzalez said. “... He does not deserve to be the mayor of this city any longer.”
The news conference came just two hours after Filner said that he will not resign.
“I’m not going to resign, and here’s why,” Filner said in a statement. “As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions.
“But as a citizen of this country, I also expect -- and am entitled to -- due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me.”
Although Filner last week admitted to treating women on his staff poorly, he stopped short of admitting to sexual harassment. He also promised to seek professional help, take a sexual harassment class, and apologize to women he may have offended.
Meanwhile, Filner’s ex-fiancee told KPBS radio in San Diego that Filner should resign and that she caught him making dates with other women and sending them sexually explicit emails. She added, however, that she does not know whether allegations of harassing his staff are true.
Last week, after Filner released a contrite video and admitted “I need help,” Frye, Gonzalez and Briggs rejected his plea as inadequate and hinted that they will release facts to back up their claims that he has been guilty of “reprehensible” behavior toward women.
To allow Filner to remain in office would only “enable” him to continue abusing women, Frye said.
As supporters, Frye and Gonzalez said they talked to Filner before going public with last week’s demand. They realized he would not change, they said.
Only Filner’s resignation will “help stop this horrible, horrible civic nightmare,” Frye said.
In his statement, Filner said “the operations of city government will not be negatively impacted” by the controversy. He announced that a former chief administrative officer at the county government will become interim chief operating officer for the city.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.