SAN DIEGO — Bob Filner received the due process he deserved and now has to pay the price for his actions, his main supporter during his final, scandal-plagued months as San Diego mayor said Tuesday.
RELATED STORY: Filner takes plea deal on criminal charges
Immigrant-rights activist Enrique Morones held several rallies and news conferences to call for due process for Filner as the ex-mayor faced allegations that he sexually harassed numerous women.
“This should be handled through due process, which is what happened,” Morones told City News Service. “It’s a sad day. (Filner) admitted certain actions and has to pay the price.”
He said he objected to a “kangaroo court” trying the case through the media after the allegations were first leveled in early July.
At a rally this summer, Morones said Filner deserved due process because of his support for closer ties with Mexico and civil rights work in the South in the 1960s.
Lawyer Gloria Allred, who represents Irene McCormack Jackson, the first woman to publicly accuse Filner of sexual harassment, said the ex-mayor hurt many women, and she was proud of the ones who contacted sheriff’s investigators.
“His conduct as the mayor of San Diego was reprehensible and justice demands that he be punished for the harm he has caused to countless women who trusted and believed in him,” Allred said.
Allred filed a civil lawsuit against Filner on behalf of McCormack Jackson, who was his communications director.
Reaction also came in from City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Filner’s primary political opponent at City Hall.
“Today’s action underscores the importance of Mr. Filner’s removal from office and will further help our city and the victims put this behind us,” Goldsmith said.
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who ran against Filner in the June 2012 mayoral primary and finished fourth, lauded the “outstanding” collaboration by law enforcement in holding him accountable. Filner “abused his power,” she said.
“It sends a strong message that nobody is above the law, abuse of women won’t be tolerated, and victims will be treated with respect when they come forward,” Dumanis said. “The Sheriff’s Department and Attorney General’s Office prioritized this investigation and prosecution, handling it with a professionalism that delivers a just end to a sad chapter in our city’s history.”
Sheriff Bill Gore, who leads the main investigative agency in the case, spoke to reporters at a news conference, saying he believed Filner’s acceptance of the plea deal “demonstrates very well” the merits of the charges filed against him.
“These were allegations that we felt comfortable that we had proven, that the attorney general felt we had proven and that would stand up in a court of law,” Gore said.
The sheriff described the resolution to the criminal case as a good one for the victimized women as well as the community at large.
“These victims will not have to testify (before) a grand jury,” Gore noted. “They will not have to go into a court of law and continue to relive their victimization. So, all things considered, I think it was the right move and it gives the chance for this city to move on.”
Peggy Shannon, a 67-year-old part-time city employee who says Filner kissed her on the lips and repeatedly asked her for dates, told 10News the plea deal “really vindicates all of us women that said, yes, he did do this.”
Emily Gilbert, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator who claims the 10-term congressman touched her backside, told the station she was “uneasy” that he will not receive jail time, because “he doesn’t seem to show remorse.”
Filner’s interim replacement as mayor, Council President Todd Gloria, said he has taken several positive steps toward “repairing the damage” caused by his predecessor.
“Today’s guilty plea is another step in that direction and confirmation that this unfortunate chapter in our city’s history will soon be behind us,” Gloria said. “I am grateful for the courage of the victims who have come forward to share their stories and the dedication of the investigators and prosecutors who are working to ensure justice and closure for all involved.”
Gloria and Filner, both Democrats, butted heads soon after Filner took office last December. Since he assumed the role of interim mayor, Gloria said he has been uncovering and fixing problems left behind by Filner’s administration.
Former Councilman Carl DeMaio, who lost a close runoff election for mayor in November, noted that Filner is forfeiting his pension.
“I’m pleased the reforms we implemented on the City Council are being used — including taking away pensions from government officials convicted of felonies,’ said DeMaio.
“Nobody is above the law, especially elected officials who have broken the public’s trust as Bob Filner has,’ DeMaio said. “Today we’re seeing our laws work in favor of the people of San Diego, especially for the courageous women who stepped forward.”
DeMaio plans to challenge Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, next year.