Filner’s accusers make emotional plea for resignation

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SAN DIEGO — Three former close allies of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner made an emotional public demand that he resign immediately Thursday because of what they called credible allegations that he has sexually harassed a number of women.

GonzalesFryeFormer Councilwoman Donna Frye and lawyers Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs each made emotionally charged statements at a 10 a.m. news conference outside Briggs’ law office. All three repeated charges they made in letters they sent to Filner earlier this week calling for him to step down immediately, but they refused to add any details to the charges, saying they want to protect the women involved.

Frye, who was a prominent Filner supporter during his mayoral campaign,  said she had very specific facts from a number of women detailing the harassment, but she would not provide specifics. Fighting back tears, she said , “When I received credible first-hand evidence of more than one woman being sexually harassed, I could not not act.”

“I did not make thFilnerAccuseris request lightly. It is one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. I was well aware of the consequences of how this could play out in the political arena, however there are community standards in our society that need to be upheld when those standards are not respected.”

Gonzales, who is known for filing lawsuits that have threatened July 4 fireworks shows in coastal areas, said that he represents at least one of the women who have made allegations. He said that there are no criminal allegations against the mayor, and no one has filed a lawsuit against Filner yet, but that could change. The public will have to judge the charges against Filner without details for now, he said.

“At this point, you have three individuals who have long considered themselves allies of Bob Filner perhaps putting their careers on the line, perhaps putting their moral standards up for the community to judge,” Gonzalez said. “As humans, and as lawyers and as people in this communty, there comes a point where we can no longer simply say, ‘That’s just a rumor.'”

Gonzales said the next move is up to Filner.

Briggs, who sued to stop the convention center expansion and renewal of the city’s Tourism Marketing District, said in a letter faxed to the mayor’s office that “long-term damage” to the principles of open government would be caused if Filner remained in office.

“At this point, I cannot maintain my credibility in the community as an advocate for good government while pretending that your office has not been irreversibly compromised,” Briggs wrote, adding his “request” was made reluctantly, since he shares the mayor’s views on what’s wrong with the city and the ways to fix the problems.

Reaction to the allegations began pouring in from local officials.

Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, said “serious and grievous accusations of harassment” were conveyed to him by people he knew and trusted, although the facts were not yet fully known.

“However, if the allegations are true, this behavior is inexcusable, shows terrible disregard for women, the voters and the thousands of people who worked tirelessly to support the mayor’s candidacy,” Peters said.

Former Mayor Jerry Sanders said the “recent events at City Hall are unfortunate and we hope these women are not further victimized.”

City Council President Todd Gloria said people should be able to work in an environment free of harassment and intimidation.

“I offer my assurance to any person who may have been harassed that their claims will not be discounted should they come forward,” Gloria said. “All applicable administrative and legal protocols will be followed by the city.”

The calls for his resignation are the latest in a series of turbulent events involving the 70-year-old Democrat, who was elected in November after 10 terms in Congress.

On Monday, Filner’s fiancee sent an email to friends and supporters, announcing she and the mayor have broken their engagement and ended their relationship. The email from Bronwyn Ingram, whom Filner had referred to as San Diego’s first lady, provided no details.

There also have been published and broadcast reports that federal officials are looking into a deal between Filner and a land developer. The developer donated $100,000 to two of Filner’s pet projects—one for veterans, one for bicyclists—allegedly in exchange for Filner dropping his opposition to a land-use project. Filner has since returned the money.

UPDATE (as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday): Filner released a prerecorded apology Thursday at 3 p.m. in response to allegations that he sexually harassed a number of women, but he refused to resign from office.

Following the mayor’s apology, San Diego Councilman Scott Sherman called on Filner to resign with explanation.

“[Filner] has admitted that he is guilty of sexually harassing women and his actions are unacceptable under any circumstance,” Sherman said. “Unfortunately this is the latest and most disturbing of a series of scandals that make him incapable of leading our city.”

Councilman Mark Kersey requested the city to “immediately investigate” Filner’s actions.

“It is disturbing that the Mayor did not deny any of the allegations made by four high-profile San Diegans. Our immediate focus should be on the safety of our workers. No employee should feel intimidated or vulnerable on the job,” said Kersey. “We have to ensure that the City of San Diego sets the highest possible standards for professionalism in the workplace. Any and all claims must be immediately investigated by the City.”

7 comments

  • Dan Adams

    Gonzalez: "The public will have to judge the charges without details for now…" WHAT?!
    Sounds like 'You'll have to pass the bill to know what's in it" No criminal charges, no lawsuit,
    What is this, a kangaroo court? Filner has spoken up, now it's time to know what the accusations are,
    or shut up!

  • mike gibson

    This sexist scumbag should resign immediately. If he really"wants" help he should do it on his own time on his own dime.

  • thechurchofchrismartin

    Something seems fishy here. Even if Mayor Filner acted creepy, to have these three accusers all of a sudden turn up like this, waving charges of sexual harassment around without facts and details of just what happened sounds like a bunch of heresay. I like Donna Frye and trust her but those other two guys are slimy. I want more info.

  • Dani

    Filner’s comments, “I will also be announcing fundamental changes within the Mayor’s Office designed to promote a new spirit of cooperation, respect and effectiveness".
    In addition, “my staff and I will participate in sexual harassment training provided by the city. Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one that can make these changes”

    First, it is not the “office” that needs to be educated, it is Filner. Moreover, does anyone need “training” to understand that harassment of anyone is unacceptable? to be cont-on another post

  • Dani

    For Filner to think the City should pay for the “educational training” is off the mark. His actions- HIS choice, he should the only one accountable.

    As far as any whistleblowers going public, In the majority of sexual harassment cases, women as victims often are stigmatized as the woman who “caused the problem”. If anyone goes public with harassment charges, they fear retaliation, plain and simple.

    No free passes should be given to anyone for unacceptable behavior– especially someone in public office. The recent allegations are the final tipping point of unacceptable behavior.

    It is odd that that those that came forward are being chastised by some. They had a moral compass. What about those that saw things going on and looked away? Can you imagine what would have happened if the victims came forward? This is why victims hesitate or do not report. They are re-victimized.

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