SAN DIEGO -- A 67-year-old great-grandmother on Thursday accused Mayor Bob Filner of sexually harassing her even as he must have known that a scandal about his conduct toward women was about to become public.
Peggy Shannon, who was working part-time at the senior citizens service desk at City Hall, said that Filner made sexually inappropriate comments to her last month about wanting to begin a personal relationship.
Among other comments, Shannon said Filner asked her in recent months: “Do you think I could go eight hours straight?”
Shannon and her attorney, Gloria Allred, suggested at a news conference that the comment was an off-color reference to sex. “I was shocked he would say that to me,” said Shannon, her voice breaking.
Shannon said Filner’s misconduct began soon after he became mayor and continued each time he would see her at her desk in the lobby of City Hall. Once, he kissed her without her approval, she said.
After three former supporters held a news conference July 11 alerting the public to Filner’s alleged pattern of sexual misbehavior, he passed Shannon and put his finger to his lips, a suggestion that she remain silent about his behavior, Allred said.
By early July, Filner’s staff had complained at two emotional meetings with him that his conduct was unacceptable. Also, former Councilwoman Donna Frye had gone to Filner telling him to change his conduct immediately.
Shannon, still employed part-time with the city, has filed an employment complaint with the city, asking for an apology from Filner. She said that on more than one occasion she went home and cried about Filner’s behavior.
“Mayor Filner, I want to protect working women,” Shannon said. “It is long overdue for you to do the right thing and the right thing is for you to go.”
Shannon is the 15th woman to accuse Filner of sexual misconduct, all of whom have said he should resign. Shannon told reporters that she has three sons, four grandsons and two great-grandsons.
“He has placed a stain on City Hall and it’s going to be very difficult to remove unless he resigns,” Allred said.
Allred has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of Filner’s former director of communications, Irene McCormack Jackson.
Allred last week held a news conference beside a nurse who said Filner made advances on her when she went to him at City Hall seeking help dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of a Marine wounded in Iraq.
Filner, 70, a Democrat, is said to be taking “personal time” after completing a behavioral therapy program. He has admitted to treating women with disrespect but denied any sexual harassment.
He has rejected demands by all nine City Council members and others to resign.