SAN DIEGO — A private attorney defending San Diego Mayor Bob Filner against allegations of that he sexually harassed an employee said the city never gave Filner sexual harassment training, according to a letter released Wednesday.
In a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith dated Monday, lawyer Harvey Berger said the city failed to provide Filner or other top new executives with sexual harassment training within six months of their employment, which Berger said is required by law.
“In fact, it is my understanding that such training was scheduled, but that the trainer for the city unilaterally canceled, and never rescheduled such training for the mayor (and others),” Berger wrote. “Therefore, if there is any liability at all, the city will almost certainly be liable for `failing to prevent harassment’ under Government Code Section 12940(k).”
Filner has been accused by eight women of sexual harassment. Most of the women said their encounters were with Filner when he was a congressman, but one, former mayoral Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson, has sued him and the city for alleged workplace harassment at City Hall.
On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously rejected Berger’s bid to have the city pay for Filner’s defense, and also authorized a lawsuit that would seek to force the mayor to reimburse the city for any damages it incurs.
Meanwhile, the two men spearheading separate efforts to recall Filner met privately were expected to make an announcement later this week about their plans, according to various television reports.
Legal questions have arisen about whether multiple recall campaigns can be conducted against the same office-holder. The head of one effort, Michael Pallamary, accused the leader of the other, Stampp Corbin, of starting his campaign to derail a legitimate recall attempt.
Filner has denied that his actions constitute sexual harassment, but has apologized for mistreating women. He said he will check himself into a behavioral clinic for treatment for two weeks, starting Monday.
But the prospect of his rehab has done nothing to silence a rising chorus of calls for his resignation, including from California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat like Filner.