Unlucky 13 for Filner
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The count of women who have publicly accused Bob
Filner of sexual harassment stood at 13 Wednesday after two female military
veterans claimed the San Diego mayor made unwanted advances on them.
Both women, Eldonna Lewis Fernandez and Gerri Tindley, told CNN that
Filner accosted them at a National Women's Veterans Association of America
event last year, while he was a congressman running for mayor.
Fernandez, a retired Air Force master sergeant, said Filner told her she
was beautiful and asked her to dinner. He later left her a voice mail.
“Hi, it's your newly favorite congressman, Bob Filner,” he says on the
message. “You know, the one who fell in love with you at your last speech?”
Fernandez said she deleted the message but later found it in her phone's
Tindley said Filner sat next to her in a waiting room at the event and
kept moving closer to her on a couch. Tindley, who said she was raped while in
the Army and bore a son, said she nearly fell off the couch trying to get away
“He got as close as he could to me — his jacket was touching my
jacket,” Tindley told CNN. “I was bent down. He was bent down with me, rubbing
like he cared, like he was consoling me.”
Fernandez said she was raped three times while in the service.
“We're all victims of military sexual assault, and it appears to me
that he was targeting this organization and hitting on the women in this
organization because they were easy prey,” Fernandez said. “So he's part of
an organization that's against sexual assault and sexual violence towards women
and sexual harassment, and he's doing the very thing that we are fighting to
make stop in our service and in our country.”
The CNN story sparked renewed calls for Filner's ouster.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said on her Twitter account
“Just when you think it can't get any worse… Please, Mayor Filner resign,
then stay in rehab forever. You need it.” The remark was followed by a link to
the CNN story.
Gonzalez formerly led the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council,
an umbrella organization for the labor unions that funded most of Filner's
mayoral campaign. She is also the sister of Marco Gonzalez, a North County
attorney who was one of three former Filner supporters who first raised the
sexual harassment allegations.
Tuesday, a nurse seeking help for an injured Marine ensnared in Veterans
Administration red tape said the San Diego mayor sought a personal
relationship with her.
Her lawyer, Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, said Filner made his
advances on licensed vocational nurse Michelle Tyler in the mayor's office on
June 11, about a month before Marco Gonzalez, lawyer Cory Briggs and ex-
Councilwoman Donna Frye leveled the first allegations.
Allred said Tyler had seen Filner when he was a congressman and leader
of the House Veterans Affairs Committee because the Marine, Katherine
Ragazzino, had not been able to resolve her problems with the VA, and he asked
her to return if the issues persisted. Ragazzino said she suffered a traumatic
brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during her service in Iraq.
Allred said that at the latest meeting, Filner seemed willing to help
Tyler, “but at a price,” notably a “personal and sexual relationship.”
“In other words, Mayor Filner wanted Ms. Tyler to help him fulfill his
sexual needs if she wanted his help for a deserving war veteran,” Allred said.
“That is not only disgusting, but a complete abuse of power that should not be
tolerated by the electorate.”
Allred — appearing with Tyler and Ragazzino before reporters in San
Diego — said the women do not plan to file a lawsuit, but they want City
Attorney Jan Goldsmith to open an investigation of the mayor. Goldsmith has
said his office is investigating the allegations against Filner, who started
two weeks of behavioral therapy on Monday.
Filner has apologized for what he called a failure to respect women and
his “intimidating conduct” but insists that his actions do not constitute
Many political, civic and business leaders have called for the mayor to
resign, including seven of the nine members of the City Council, the San Diego
County Democratic Party Central Committee, former Mayor Jerry Sanders, Sen.
Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles.