SAN DIEGO — A nurse said Tuesday that Mayor Bob Filner touched her and pressured her to go on a date after she met with him to request help for wounded Marine.
Michelle Tyler, a licensed vocational nurse, spoke at a lunchtime news conference organized by her attorney, Gloria Allred. She said that Filner said he would help the Marine, but he wanted Tyler to spend time with him.
The meeting took place on June 11 in Filner’s office, Allred said. Tyler and the former Marine, Katherine Ragazzino, were following up a meeting they had had with Filner when he was still a congressman, Allred said. They wanted the mayor to help resolve a status dispute Ragazzino was having with the Veterans Administration, Allred said.
A Veterans Administration representative was at the meeting. Filner encouraged the representative to resolve the issue and then asked everyone but Tyler to leave his office, Allred said.
When the two were alone, Filner said, “Wow, you’re really magnificent,” and began rubbing Tyler’s arm, according to Allred. “Relax. You are incredible. I will help your vet, but I want you to go out to dinner with me and spend time with me.”
Tyler said she was shocked by Filner’s behavior. She tried several times to steer the conversation back to getting help for Ragazzino, but Filner continued to ask her out and said he would like to kiss her.
“He made it very clear that his expectation was that his help for Katherine was contingent on my willingness to go to dinner with him, spend personal time with him, be seen in public with him,” Tyler said. “I was not there looking for a date. I was only there to get help for Katherine.”
Tyler told Filner she had to leave, and as she was going, the mayor said he would call her. He never called and he did not help Ragazzino resolve her issue with the Veterans Administration, Allred said.
Ragazzino said that she suffered from a traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress stemming from her service in Iraq. She said that she had been living out of a car before Tyler became her caregiver. She said she and Tyler went to Filner to get help resolving an unspecified issue with the Veterans Administration.
“I don’t appreciate being used as a bargaining chip to fulfill (Filner’s) sexual desires,” she said.
Allred said that she has sent a letter to San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith requesting an investigation into the incident. She said Tyler is not filing a lawsuit, but they are requesting that a warning sign be placed on the door of the Mayor’s Office. She showed an example sign to reporters that said “Danger” in large letters and showed a skull and crossbones with Filner’s head in place of the skull.
Allred told reporters Tyler will be questioned by the Sheriff’s Department this afternoon. Irene McCormack Jackson, her other client, was questioned by investigators for about two hours Monday.
McCormack Jackson, 57, says Filner held her in a headlock while demanding kisses. She also alleged the mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked, that he could not wait to consummate their relationship and that he wanted to marry her. She is the only woman of the 12 to publicly complain about Filner’s behavior who has filed a lawsuit against the mayor and the city.
Filner has apologized for what he called a failure to respect women and his “intimidating conduct” but insists that his actions do not constitute sexual harassment.