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Filner Accusers

Several women have come forward claiming Mayor Bob Filner has sexually harassed them.

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Irene McCormack Jackson and Bob Filner

SAN DIEGO — One year to the day after she filed a lawsuit accusing former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment, Irene McCormack Jackson said Tuesday she began to see signs of strange behavior from the moment he took office.

Interviewed on the KPBS radio’s “Midday Edition” program, Filner’s former communications director said he kissed her after he was sworn in as mayor, which was soon followed by other forms of misbehavior that cost him his job nine months later.

“I watched the way he treated the office staff, not just the women, but the men, as well — screaming and yelling at them, telling them they were incompetent, stupid,” McCormack Jackson said. “It was an office that people hated being in, but because it was the office of the mayor, everybody kept working really hard to make sure it worked, that it functioned, that things were getting done for the city. So I knew it was bad from the beginning.”

She said she had heard of Filner’s reputation as being difficult to work for, but didn’t realize that he would be such a bully. She said the staff always felt like they might be yelled at, and that people sometimes went home crying.

McCormack Jackson said she declined to file a complaint with the city’s Human Resources Department, because Filner read such reports. She also feared looking for another job because she thought he would “torpedo” her efforts if he found out about them.

She decided to leave after two young women the same age as her daughters left separate encounters with Filner in May 2013 looking “surprised,” she said.

On July 22 last year, Los Angeles women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred filed a lawsuit on McCormack Jackson’s behalf, charging that Filner told her she should work without her panties on, placed her in a headlock and led her around while making suggestive remarks, among other things. The lawsuit was eventually settled for $250,000.

Filner, facing similar accusations by around 20 women and under investigation for alleged financial improprieties, resigned Aug. 30 last year. He is serving three years probation and spent three months confined to his home after pleading guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery.

“I’m glad he’s out of public office,” McCormack Jackson said. “He did not deserve to be there.”

The Filner episode led city officials to explore City Charter revisions that would make it easier to remove an elected official, if necessary. Any proposed amendments would be voted on by residents in 2016. McCormack Jackson said she supported the efforts.

At the time of the news conference last year, reporters and the public knew that sexual harassment allegations had been made against the then-mayor, but didn’t know who was leveling the accusations.

“We were walking in through the back door, and I turned around to walk away, and (Allred) pulled me in, and all I heard was people saying, `It’s Irene, it’s Irene,”’ said McCormack Jackson, who added that she was “very nervous and quite nauseous.”

She said it was difficult to talk about Filner’s comments, but she went through with it because she knew he was doing the same to other women.

“The women who went public after me took a huge risk to do so, and I’m forever grateful for what they did, because he had no remorse even when I went public,” McCormack Jackson said. “But I think he understood what was happening after more than 20 other women said the same exact thing I said.”

She said she was grateful but overwhelmed by the subsequent support she received, and withdrew from public view for awhile while suffering from migraine headaches.

McCormack Jackson, who said she has not heard from Filner since she started the litigation, told the station that she is doing “really well now” and is writing a book to help other women who find themselves in the same predicament.

SAN DIEGO – A woman has filed a lawsuit against former Mayor Bob Filner, alleging that he sexually harassed her at a public event at an elementary school while his police bodyguards watched.

In the lawsuit, filed this week in San Diego County Superior Court, Marilyn McGaughy alleges that she was “kissed, massaged, (and) groped” by the then-mayor, who made “repeated sexual advances and sexual comments.”

Filner’s police bodyguards “were present and witnessed Filner’s wrongful conduct, however, they failed to stop Filner or protect McGaughy,” according to the lawsuit filed by attorney Daniel Gilleon.

filner-web1The suit alleges that Filner committed sexual battery, gender violence and sexual harassment. McGaughy is seeking unspecified damages.

Filner, 71, a 10-term member of Congress, was elected mayor in November 2012, the city’s first Democratic mayor in two decades.

McGaughy, an advocate against domestic violence, was at Johnson Elementary School in May 2013 when Filner attended an event where he “interacted with students and teachers and brought city ‘swag’ to hand out and to promote city activities.”

McGaughy will continue to suffer “physical and emotional distress, embarrassment and mental anguish,” the lawsuit asserts.

The lawsuit was filed after the city rejected a claim on McGaughy’s behalf seeking $250,000.

Read more of Tony Perry’s story at latimes.com.

SAN DIEGO — A municipal employee was honored Monday by the San Diego City Council for her civic contributions and courage in coming forward with a sexual harassment claim against former Mayor Bob Filner.

Peggy Shannon and Gloria AllredAn apology and proclamation declaring it “Peggy Shannon Day” in San Diego were part of the settlement of the claim brought by the great- grandmother, who worked at the Senior Services desk in the lobby of City Hall when Filner was mayor.

“You showed character, integrity and courage,” Councilman Scott Sherman told Shannon. “I was brought up and have lived my life that you do the right thing, and good things happen. Well, you did the right thing, and the city of San Diego has had good things happen since.”

Shannon alleged that Filner repeatedly asked her out and one time grabbed her and kissed her on the lips. She also contended that he walked by her after the first sexual harassment allegations were lodged and put his finger to his lips.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith called it an “absolute honor” to be allowed to read the apology, which said Shannon did not receive the respect and dignity she deserved and that her decision to come forward was courageous.

Shannon said she spoke to her supervisors with the city and now-Interim Mayor Todd Gloria about what happened, and received the courage she needed to step forward from people at the Gary and Mary West Senior Center. She volunteers at the facility, which serves low-income seniors just north of downtown San Diego.

She thanked them, her bosses with the city and the San Diegans who greet her everywhere she goes.

“All the citizens of San Diego that come up to me in the grocery store – – anywhere — and thank me, that is so empowering to me,” Shannon said.

Her lawyer, Los Angeles-based civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, thanked city officials for recognizing her client.

“This may be the first city in this nation — maybe even the world — who has publicly commended a citizen for standing up against sexual harassment,” Allred said. “So I commend the city of San Diego for that now- historic act.”

State law holds the city as an employer strictly liable for sexual harassment conduct of a supervisor, including the mayor, directed at a city employee, according to Goldsmith.

On Feb. 10, the City Council approved a $250,000 outlay to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson. It was negotiations over her litigation that led him to step down on Aug. 30.

McCormack Jackson, also represented by Allred, alleged the then-mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he was eager to “consummate” their relationship.

She also contended that Filner demanded kisses and put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.

Filner pleaded guilty to to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery and was sentenced in December to three years probation, including three months of home confinement.

Two other lawsuits regarding Filner are pending.

Stacy McKenzie, a city employee like McCormack Jackson, contends the ex- mayor grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and rubbed her breasts at an event at a city park.

Michelle Tyler was seeking help for a friend, a Marine veteran, when she says Filner demanded a personal and sexual relationship.

SAN DIEGO – The City of San Diego plans to officially apologize to great-grandmother who claimed former Mayor Bob Filner sexually harassed her, city officials announced Thursday.

Peggy ShannonThe City will designate Monday, February 24 “Peggy Shannon Day” in name of the woman, who works a few days a week at the Senior Citizens’ Service Desk at City Hall.

Shannon, 67, said Filner repeatedly harassed her verbally and physically.  Filner routinely stopped at Shannon’s desk, took her hands and asked her to go out with him or make weekend plans with him, Shannon claimed. On one occasion, the mayor stopped at her desk and without warning kissed her on the lips. Shannon said that she tried to laugh off the encounters at first, but the mayor’s behavior began to bother her more and more.

Shannon was one of many woman who came forward accusing Filner of harassment.

A lawsuit filed by Filner’s former communications director Irene McCormack-Jackson led the then-70-year-old mayor to resign last August. The City Attorney’s Office agreed to defend Filner in exchange for his agreement to step down.

Filner later pleaded guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery and was sentenced in December to three years probation, including three months of home confinement.

Cases filed by two other women who sued Filner over his alleged misconduct are still pending.filner-web1

Stacy McKenzie, a city employee, contends the ex-mayor grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and rubbed her breasts at an event at a city park.

Michelle Tyler was seeking help for a friend, a Marine veteran, when Filner demanded a personal and sexual relationship, according to her lawsuit.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council Monday approved a $250,000 payment to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit that led to the resignation of former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

The lump-sum payment will resolve all aspects of the litigation filed by Filner’s ex-communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told reporters during a late-afternoon briefing.

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Irene McCormack Jackson and Bob Filner

“This settlement avoids an intense litigation,” said Jan Goldsmith.  “It would have cost both parties more than the settlement amount.”

The council approved the settlement in closed session.

McCormack Jackson, represented by Los Angeles-based women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred, alleged the then-mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he was eager to “consummate” their relationship.

She also contended that Filner demanded kisses and put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.

It was mediation over her lawsuit that led the then-70-year-old mayor to resign last August after less than nine months in office. The City Attorney’s Office agreed to defend Filner in exchange for his agreement to step down.

Filner later pleaded guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery and was sentenced in December to three years probation, including three months of home confinement.

“California law holds the city as an employer strictly liable for sexual harassment conduct of a supervisor, including the mayor, directed at a city employee,” Goldsmith said. “Legal liability may extend to physical and emotional injuries, loss of income and other costs — as well as attorney’s fees.”

Preparing for trial, which was scheduled to begin Feb. 20 of next year, would have cost both sides more than the settlement amount, he said.

“I think both sides won because we resolved this early, before a year of very expensive litigation, plus a trial at the end,” Goldsmith said.

McCormack Jackson has been on unpaid leave. Under the settlement, her municipal employment will terminate on April 1.

Allred plans to address the media on Tuesday, Feb. 11. in San Diego.

The city attorney said Filner agreed to the deal on Friday. As part of the agreement that led to Filner’s resignation, the former mayor will not have to fork over any money to McCormack Jackson.

“This was a very difficult situation for her and she handled it with dignity.  We wish her well,” said Goldsmith.

Cases filed by two other women who sued Filner over his alleged misconduct are still pending.

Stacy McKenzie, a city employee like McCormack Jackson, contends the ex- mayor grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and rubbed her breasts at an event at a city park.

Michelle Tyler was seeking help for a friend, a Marine veteran, when she says Filner demanded a personal and sexual relationship.

Resolutions of those cases could come “fairly soon,” according to Goldsmith.  Meantime, San Diego’s head to the polls tomorrow to vote in a new mayor after a special election to to replace Filner. As of this print, Democrat David Alvarez and Republican Kevin Faulkner were in a dead heat.

SAN DIEGO — Trial of a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against the city of San Diego and former Mayor Bob Filner was Friday scheduled for Feb. 20 of next year.

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Irene McCormack Jackson and Bob Filner

Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner’s onetime communications director, alleges the then-mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he could not wait to consummate their relationship.

Filner also allegedly demanded kisses from McCormack Jackson and put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.

It was mediation over her lawsuit that led the then-70-year-old mayor to resign last August after less than nine months in office. The City Attorney’s Office agreed to defend Filner in exchange for his agreement to step down.

Superior Court Judge Richard Strauss set the trial date after lawyers for the city asked for the case to be heard in 2015. McCormack Jackson’s attorney, Gloria Allred, argued for an earlier start.

“We’d like to have as early a trial date as possible so that our client and the city of San Diego can put this behind them,” Allred said after the hearing. “But given the scheduling concerns and conflicts of counsel, of the court, this is the best trial date that we could get.”

She said lawyers are collecting evidence and talking to experts. She said she hopes to depose Filner once he completes his term of house arrest.

The former 10-term congressman is serving three months in home confinement — part of his three years of probation — stemming from his guilty plea to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery. He was sentenced Dec. 9.

Two other women have sued Filner over his alleged misconduct.

Stacy McKenzie, a city employee like McCormack Jackson, contends the ex- mayor grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and rubbed her breasts at an event at a city park. Michelle Tyler was seeking help for a friend, a Marine veteran, when she says Filner demanded a personal and sexual relationship.

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego lawyer released a computer-generated video reenactment Wednesday of former Mayor Bob Filner placing a long-time city employee in a so-called “Filner headlock” and said he planned to introduce it as evidence in a harassment lawsuit.

Daniel Gilleon said the two-minute video is an accurate depiction of an encounter that his client, Stacy McKenzie, had with Filner at the Clairemont Day at the Bay event at Mission Bay on April 21.

The video shows McKenzie introducing herself the mayor, who asks her if she is married or has a boyfriend. She says no, and he then asks her for her business card and tells her he wants to take her out to lunch.

“Just to make this clear, this is not a business lunch. This is a date. I’m asking you out on a date,” the animated mayor says in the video.

Later, as McKenzie retells the story to some colleagues, the Filner character comes up from behind and puts his arm around her head. “I’m thinking of making her employee of the day,” he says. “Just so you know, I like to get really close to my city employees.”

The Filner character says, “Stacy, you are turning really red.”

“You are really embarrassing me,” the McKenzie character says, and the Filner character lets out a sinister cackle.

Gilleon said he planned to file a lawsuit for $500,000 against the mayor and the city Wednesday afternoon. He said he planned to show the animation to the jury, although he expected Filner’s defense team to fight it.

“The animation helps tell Stacy’s story, but it’s just a starting point,” Gilleon wrote Fox 5 in an email Wednesday.  “For this initial release, we downplayed some of the more severe acts by Filner, such as the initial handlock and the later headlock that included his elbow rubbing her breasts. “

Gilleon said he has been using animation for years in auto accident cases, but it hasn’t been used much for sexual harassment lawsuits.

SAN DIEGO – Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s criminal case will wrap up Monday as he is sentenced for sexual harassment.

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WATCH LIVE: Filner sentencing at 9 a.m. Monday

In October, the 71-year-old politician pleaded guilty to grabbing and mistreating women while in office.

Under the plea deal, the Attorney General’s office said Filner will avoid jail time, but will be placed on probation for three years, and is expected to spend three months under home confinement.

Filner also will be barred from ever seeking or holding public office, and will be required to get mental health treatment under court supervision.

Interim mayor Todd Gloria, who is filling Filner’s seat until a newly elected mayor is chosen, said he is not focused on the case and is getting the city back on track.

“I’m not focused on that at all,” said Gloria. “The city has moved on, I have moved on. I am focused on getting the city on track and getting ready for the new mayor to join us come March.”

While his criminal case comes to an end, Filner’s court battles are far from over.

He already has at least one civil lawsuit filed against him by his former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson.

She was the first of nearly 20 women who publicly accused the former mayor of sexual harassment. She and her legal team are demanding $1.5 million in damages.

Under Monday’s plea deal, Filner will also have to surrender his mayoral pension accrued from the time of the felony offense which occurred on March 6, 2013.

filner-web1SAN DIEGO — A criminal investigation into the activities of Bob Filner while he was mayor of San Diego is now in the hands of a grand jury, it was reported Thursday.

U-T San Diego cited two lawyers speaking under anonymity who said their clients have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury the week after next at the San Diego County Courthouse. It’s unknown what kind of charges are being considered.

The San Diego Sheriff’s Department undertook an investigation after sexual harassment complaints were lodged against Filner in July, and set up a dedicated phone line for women to call with allegations. They planned to forward any potential case to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Those agencies are involved because the San Diego Police Department and county District Attorney’s Office — led by Bonnie Dumanis, who ran against Filner for mayor last year — had conflicts of interest.

Sheriff’s officials and state prosecutors have repeatedly refused to comment about the investigation. Grand jury proceedings are secret.

Filner also faces a civil lawsuit filed by his former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, who is represented by attorney Gloria Allred. She alleges Filner told her she should work without panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and could not wait to consummate their relationship.

McCormack Jackson — the first of about 20 women to come forward — also alleges Filner put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks. It was mediation over her lawsuit that led the 71- year-old former congressman to resign Aug. 30 after less than nine months in office.

Filner also has been accused of shaking down developers and misusing a city-issued credit card.

When he resigned, he apologized but also blamed a “lynch mob” mentality for his downfall.

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