San Diego Mayor’s Defense: No One Told Him He Couldn’t Sexually Harass People

Friday, August 02, 2013
Mayor Bob Filner

Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, facing allegations from at least eight women that he sexually harassed them, blamed his problems on the city for failing to give him mandatory training in sexual harassment prevention required for new managers.  

Filner, 70, has already admitted that he acted inappropriately—although he denied he harassed anyone—and signed up for a two-week behavioral therapy session. He released a video copping to having “failed to fully respect women,” but continues to resist calls for his immediate resignation by both political foes and former allies.

On Thursday, Filner’s account of how he came to miss the harassment training was contradicted by Jay Goldstone, the city’s interim chief operating officer from December to March. Goldstone said Filner’s office cancelled the scheduled briefing, not the city. And Filner’s predecessor, Jerry Sanders, said the mayor could have taken the training alone because it’s just a two-hour online class.

Filner’s trials and travails have unfolded like a bad soap opera since three women, including ex-city councilwoman and former Filner ally Donna Frye, accused him of outrageous behavior. Stories surfaced of unwanted kisses, vulgar requests and improper touching as key allies resigned their posts and his fiancée left him.

That’s when Filner finally took the harassment training.

The brash former 10-term Democratic congressman, already at odds with political opponents in the Republican stronghold of San Diego, has faced a daily barrage of new allegations and demands for his resignation. But Republican broadsides aren’t his only problem. The San Diego Democratic Party’s central committee voted to call for his resignation and members of his own party—as far away as Washington, D.C., where Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said he should quit—have abandoned him. 

Earlier in the week, Filner asked the city council to pick up his legal bills, including those for defense of a lawsuit by former Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson, who claims the mayor repeatedly put her in a headlock, asked her to get naked and suggested she work without panties.

Filner’s attorney, Harvey Berger, argued in a letter to the council that the city should pick up his client’s bills because it might be liable in any harassment lawsuits. He also wrote that it was doubtful any of the seven women accusing Filner, other than Jackson, will be able to testify in the lawsuit because they were not city employees.  

The council rejected the mayor’s request and, instead, voted 9-0 to sue him for any costs the city incurs in his legal struggle.

Filner’s intensive therapy at a behavior counseling center is scheduled to begin Monday.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

San Diego Mayor Didn't Get Harassment Training, So City Should Pay Legal Costs, Lawyer Says (by Julie Watson, Associated Press)

San Diego Sues Mayor Bob Filner (by Rebecca Elliott, Politico)

Filner's Attorney Contradicted about Sexual Harassment Training (by Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times)

San Diego Mayor Refuses to Resign as Political Brawl Gets Personal (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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