Nurse seeking to aid wounded Marine says Bob Filner harassed her
SAN DIEGO -- A nurse alleged Tuesday that Mayor Bob Filner sexually harassed her when she met with him to seek help for a Marine injured in Iraq.
Filner promised to help the Marine with the Department of Veterans Affairs but then told the nurse that she was attractive and that he wanted to take her on a date, according to the nurse and her attorney, Gloria Allred.
The nurse, Michelle Tyler, said she met with Filner when he was a congressmen and later as mayor.
“I believe a person in power should not take advantage of their position to gain a sexual advantage,” Tyler said at a news conference, her voice breaking.
Tyler said that she met with Filner in his mayoral office in June and that he made clear that helping the injured Marine was contingent on Tyler dating him.
“I felt that his rubbing my arm and telling me to relax … was extremely inappropriate and unacceptable,” Tyler said.
To try to use his office to “satisfy his sexual needs,” Allred said, is an abuse of Filner’s power that should be investigated by the city attorney.
Allred said she was not filing a lawsuit on Tyler’s behalf “at this time,” but her client will be speaking to investigators from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and representatives of state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.
“I have been contacted by other women,” Allred said.
The Marine who asked Tyler for help said she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury from her months in Iraq.
The Marine, Katherine Ragazzino, who also attended the news conference, said she was homeless when she turned to Tyler and then to Filner for assistance dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs and her disability claim.
Ragazzino is a retired staff sergeant who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan during a 10-year military career before being medically retired in 2009 because of her injuries, according to a website about injured military personnel.
“I don’t appreciate being used as a bargaining chip to fulfill his sexual desires,” Ragazzino said.
Allred said she believed a sign should be posted outside the mayor’s office warning women that the mayor was dangerous.
The allegations from Tyler fit the pattern cited by other accusers: that Filner makes unwanted advances at the end of meetings in which women have sought his help on a project or public issue.
In Congress, Filner had a reputation as a staunch supporter of military veterans and for fighting to make sure they received adequate medical care. He was chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs from 2007 to 2011.
Allred has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Filner’s former director of communications, Irene McCormack Jackson. The lawsuit accuses Filner of sexual harassment and seeks unspecified damages for a pattern of inappropriate touching and sexual comments.
Counting Jackson, Tyler is the 11th woman who has accused Filner of sexual misconduct.
Filner has refused demands to resign. He is undergoing two weeks of therapy to learn how to treat women with respect.
The 70-year-old Democrat has promised to return to work Aug. 19 and continue to receive counseling for what he admits has been a long history of treating women badly.
A recall effort is in the early stages to oust Filner. The sheriff’s department has set up a hotline to field allegations against him. On Monday investigators interviewed Jackson, with Allred at her side.
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