Opponents say San Diego mayor ‘unsafe’ for women
SAN DIEGO (AP) — A prominent one-time supporter of San Diego’s mayor described how the mayor has repeatedly groped women during his short term, saying no female in California’s second-largest city would be safe in his presence.
Despite that, Mayor Bob Filner, 70, made it clear he will not heed the calls for his resignation from former Councilwoman Donna Frye and others within his party, even as they held a news conference to divulge details of allegations they said show a dangerous pattern of abuse by the city’s first Democratic leader in two decades.
“I’m not going to resign, and here’s why,” Filner, a former U.S. congressman, said Monday in a statement. “As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions. But as a citizen of this country, I also expect — and am entitled to — due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me.”
Frye rocked Filner’s support base when she went public with the accusations last week during a news conference and asked him to step down. She did not give specifics until Monday when she read statements to the media from two people who said they were constituents, though they were not named.
Both say the mayor — who was engaged at the time — tried to forcibly kiss them during separate encounters.
“We will all fail the women of our city if we ask them to continue to meet with this man,” said Frye, who worked briefly for the mayor as his director of open government.
She later added, “Bob Filner is tragically unsafe for any woman to approach.”
Filner apologized for his behavior Thursday after Frye first went public with the allegations. The mayor said he failed to respect women who work for him and he intimidated them at times. Without going into details, Filner called his behavior wrong and said he needed help. He pleaded with voters for patience.
Two attorneys accompanying Frye Monday said Filner’s inappropriate behavior was so common at City Hall that employees had coined the term “The Filner Dance” to describe how workers dodge his sexual advances. “The Filner Headlock” was used to describe how the mayor would wrap his arm around the neck of a female worker, the attorneys said.
Filner’s former fiancee, who ended their engagement early last week just before the allegations became public, gave details about the behavior behind the breakup in a statement on Monday.
“While I had heard rumors that he was engaging in sexual relationships with other women, I was never able to determine their validity,” Bronwyn Ingram said in the statement, according to U-T San Diego.
“However, as Bob’s behavior continued to become more aggressive, standard decorum seemed to disappear. Bob recently began texting other women sexually explicit messages and setting up dates while in my presence and within my line of vision.”
Marco Gonzalez, a former Filner supporter, said he is representing one employee who allegedly had been harassed by the mayor. He said his client has worked for Filner for six months and has known him for years.
A handful of supporters held signs at the news conference outside City Hall that read: “Due process for Mayor Filner.” Some yelled at Frye and the attorneys, saying the allegations were hearsay.
Frye read the statements from women she called constituents No. 1 and No. 2.
The first constituent said the mayor asked his staffer to leave the room and then asked her if she was single.
She said she told Filner that he had a beautiful fiancee and that the mayor responded that he wanted to go out with her and kiss her. Filner then grabbed her and kissed her before she was able to push him away and leave the room, according to the statement.
In a statement from constituent No. 2, Filner allegedly made sexual overtures before grabbing her on the street to kiss her.
The victim was “unnerved” by the advance but did not want to be rude and still gave Filner a ride in her car, where he put his hand in her bra and tried to kiss her again, according to the statement.