Local Dems to meet again on Filner as two more accusations levied
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A day after two more women accused him of sexual
harassment, the San Diego County Democratic Party Thursday will meet for the
second time to work out its stance on the political future of embattled San
Diego Mayor Bob Filner.
Party committee members met last Thursday for more than three hours but
failed to reach a consensus on whether to support the 70-year-old Filner, whose
resignation is being clamored for by several local office holders and civic
leaders, both Democrat and Republican.
In a statement released after last week's meeting, committee chairwoman
Francine Busby said that, although committee members were divided, there would
be grounds for Filner's resignation if the sexual harassment allegations turn
out to be true.
“I can share some broad areas of agreement among Democratic Party
leaders,” she said. “We unequivocally condemn sexual harassment and workplace
intimidation. We abhor the actions he is alleged to have taken against women,
even as we recognize that all the individuals involved have a legal right to
Filner was first publicly accused of sexual harassment about two weeks
ago, when three of his former political allies held a joint news conference to
announce they had evidence he had engaged in it and that he should step down
immediately. The trio, which included former Councilwoman Donna Frye, initially
declined to discuss specific allegations, citing a need for privacy for the
On Monday, Filner's former communications director became the first
woman to publicly describe his allegedly offensive conduct.
Irene McCormack Jackson, 57, said that while she worked in the mayor's
office, Filner held her in a headlock while demanding kisses. She also alleged
the mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to
see her naked, that he could not wait to consummate their relationship, and
that he wanted to marry her.
Jackson has filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court against Filner
and the city. It seeks unspecified damages. She is being represented by high-
profile Los Angeles-based attorney Gloria Allred.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who himself has feuded with the mayor on
several occasions, said his office will defend the city, while Filner will be
represented by lawyer Harvey Berger, possibly at the city's expense.
Pending the outcome of the lawsuit, Filner is restricted from meeting
alone with women at city facilities.
“At my request, the mayor is not to meet with women alone at city
facilities,” Goldsmith said. “That was agreed to by his lawyer, and it is
being enforced by the chief of staff, deputy chief of staff. The chief of
police is also aware of that and has made certain commitments.”
After Jackson came forward, a former campaign staffer said Filner patted
her bottom at a 2005 fundraising event, when he was a congressman. Laura Fink
said she demanded an apology from Filner in an email and received a mumbled
“I'm sorry” a couple of days later.
Filner's third alleged victim is San Diego Unified School District
psychologist Morgan Rose, who said she met with Filner in 2009 at a restaurant
across from his congressional office to discuss her initiative dedicated to the
well-being of America's children. She said that during their discussion, he
told her “your eyes have bewitched me” and moved next to her.
Rose said Filner tried to kiss her four times and only stopped when he
received a phone call. She quoted him as saying he wouldn't budge until she
Rose said she has called a hotline set up by the Sheriff's Department to
take complaints against the mayor. The department has been designated as the
lead law enforcement agency for investigating the claims.
Filner initially apologized for mistreating women in his office,
admitting that he failed to fully respect the women who work for him and with
him and that at times, he intimidated them. Later, he said his actions did not
constitute sexual harassment.
In rebuffing calls for his resignation, Filner, who was elected last
November, said he's working with professionals to make changes in his behavior
and he wants an opportunity to prove he's capable of change.
Following Monday's announcement from Jackson, Filner said in a statement
that he was saddened by the charges that were leveled against him.
“Once due process is allowed to unfold, I am certain there will be a
better understanding of this situation,” he said.
He also asked San Diegans to avoid a rush to judgment.
“I do not believe these claims are valid,” Filner said. “This is why
due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know
that justice will prevail.”