Filner to take leave for behavior counseling

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Friday ignored mounting calls for his resignation because of allegations of sexual harassment, announcing instead that he is taking a two-week leave of absence for intensive behavior counseling.

Filner Announces RehabFilner said he will enter a clinic for full-time, intensive counseling on Aug. 5. He said will be briefed twice a day on city business during his stay and planned to return to his duties two weeks later.

“So when I return on Aug. 19, my focus will be on making sure that I am doing right by the city in terms of being the best mayor that I can be and the best person I must be,” the mayor said.

Filner made the announcement at a news conference outside the Mayor’s Office just after 12 p.m. following calls by both local and national Democratic Party leaders for him to step down. The news conference got off to a rocky start when the mayor’s microphone cut out part way through his statement. He went back to his office and came out again about 10 minutes later after the audio equipment had been fixed.

“Let me be absolutely clear: the behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong. My failure to respect women and the intimidating contact I engage in at times is inexcusable,” Filner said. “It has undermined what I have spent my whole professional life working on: fighting for equality and justice for all people. And it is simply not acceptable for me to try to explain away my conduct as the product of the standards of a different generation.”

Filner apologized to the people of San Diego and “most of all, I apologize to the women I have offended.”

The mayor said that the intensive therapy will be followed by ongoing counseling when he returns to his duties at City Hall. He said that he hopes to someday be forgiven, but first he must demonstrate that his behavior has changed.

Reaction to the mayor’s statement was immediate and overwhelming negative. Several City Council members issued statements renewing their calls for Filner to resign.

Bob Filner’s announcement that he will be taking a leave of absence prolongs the pain he is inflicting on our city at a time when San Diegans are calling for an end to this civic nightmare,” wrote Council President Todd Gloria.

“Mayor Filner continues to put his needs in front of the needs of his victims and the needs of citizens of San Diego,” Councilwoman Lorie Zapf wrote” By not stepping down, it is an insult to the victims, and an insult to women everywhere.”

“Two weeks of therapy will not end decades of bad behavior,”  Councilman Kevin Faulconer wrote. “(Filner) needs to resign and seek long-term treatment as a private citizen.”

Mayor Filner needs to wrestle with his demons as a private citizen—not on the public’s time or the taxpayer’s dime,” Councilman Mark Kersey wrote.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who is suing Filner on behalf of his former communications director, said that Filner should not need therapy to understand that women “should not be treated like pieces of meat.”

“Mayor Filner has harmed many women, including my client Irene McCormack Jackson.  He should resign immediately,” Allred wrote. “I view his decision to seek therapy as a ploy to stay in power and to try to gain sympathy.”

Filner, a Democrat who left Congress to become San Diego’s mayor last fall, has been accused by seven women of unwanted advances and touching, dating back several years. The first woman came forward Monday and others have followed every day this week.

Filner, 70, first came under fire for sexual harassment about two weeks ago, when three of his former political allies, including former Councilwoman Donna Frye, held a joint news conference to say they had become aware of his indiscretions and wanted his immediate resignation. Since then, numerous other political and civic leaders have also called for his resignation, including the majority of the City Council and Filner’s former fiancee.

Filner initially apologized when harassment allegations were first raised. More recently, however, he has said his actions do not constitute sexual harassment and that he wants his due process rights.

The sheriff’s department has created a hotline for women who believe they are victims at 619-481-0220.

22 comments

  • ron

    What a bunch of BS!! When he gets caught , he says he has a problem? Typical BS Democrat. Who did you learn from Clinton? Resign you POS!

  • BILL THOMSON

    he lied about the $100,000————-he lied about the trip to france not costing the city anything——it looks like his pants are on fire !!

  • Guest

    Absurd! celebrities and politicians get away with everything!!!!! " I am a politician and I do what I want!"

    • Guest

      The American people can put a stop to this corruption at once, it is called Tax Revolt. No money no power.

  • Jane

    I feel sorry for the victims. And they ARE victims. I also believe that Mayor Filner is suffering psychologically and that he does need treatment. As his girlfriend stated his behavior had deteriorated substantially. He does need treatment and is doing the right thing. He is clearly sick right now.

  • PQConstituent

    You're down to only two choices now, Bob… resignation or recall – it WILL be one or the other. The people of San Diego have had their fill of you, as has your own party hierarchy.

    Either you resign with some dignity left – showing that you really DO care about your constituents, or you'll be recalled and become a laughing stock and a pariah…

    Where will you move to then, Bob? How far will you have to go to get away from the stink you will have caused?

  • thechurchofchrismartin

    Well now, all of those women yapping about how Mayor Bob tried to kiss them or grab their goodies will now have to step back a little, because now Filner is "under the care of a doctor." Everyone knows that means he has a "disease" and might be "disabled" by it. Brilliant strategy to hold the braying jackals back…for now.

  • -[oo]- Robot

    While he's gone the victim factory can pump out some more victims and give them their scripts to study before he gets back.

  • GUEST

    Keep the Job BOB !!!!! He's our Mayor and Far from the worst person to hold office in San Diego. He shall be a CLEAN MAYOR with the spotlight on his every move. I can't think of any better situation than him Staying on and Serving the People who elected him. As for a Recall HA – HA – HA that won't be a walk in the park and the Haters/Screamers are NOT the majority.

    QUESTION Could People who are against the Recall can sign the petition with False Names = Donald D. Duck, Al E. Gator Etc and have the rest of the names on that petition tossed out ?? Just Asking "You can Be Sure ALL Signatures Shall be Demanded to be Verified" before BOB steps down should the numbers appear to be reached

  • GUEST

    Should the County get billed for the Defense Costs they are contributing to, by soliciting People to Join in against the Mayor ???

  • -[oo]- Robot

    Delayed sexual harassment from how many years ago? And we're supposed to but this?
    San Diegans are so gullible. I stole stuff from a store when I was a kid, come get me you idiots.

  • guest

    Come on people the man got needs and let him get some head. You gotta admit Americans LOVE sex, drugs, and violent.

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