Ex-San Diego mayor sentenced for harassment
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Ex-San Diego mayor Bob Filner was sentenced Monday to three months of home confinement and three years of probation for harassing women while he led America’s eighth-largest city, completing the fall of the former 10-term congressman.
Filner, who resigned amid widespread allegations of sexual harassment, pleaded guilty in October to one felony and two misdemeanors for placing a woman in a headlock, kissing another woman and grabbing the buttocks of a third.
Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta’s sentence was the same as what prosecutors recommended in a plea agreement with Filner. The 71-year-old former mayor faced a maximum penalty of three years in prison for the felony and one year in jail for each misdemeanor.
The judge specified the Filner may not seek or hold elective office during the term of his probation and will be monitored by GPS during his home confinement, which begins on Jan. 1 and ends March 31. Exceptions to home confinement include medical, mental health and therapy appointments as well as travel to religious services.
Filner spoke briefly during the sentencing hearing.
“I want to apologize to my family who have stood by me through this ordeal, to my loyal staff and supporters, the citizens of San Diego and most sincerely to the women I have hurt and offended,” Filner said.
He promised to earn back their trust and recover his integrity.
“Certainly the behaviors before this court today will never be repeated,” he said.
Melissa Mandel, supervising state deputy attorney general, said victims in the criminal complaint did not want to address the court. She said Filner had demeaned, humiliated and embarrassed them.
“Today is the day that Bob Filner begins to pay his debt to the citizens of San Diego,” she said.
Filner sold himself to voters as a champion of civil rights, she said, but his behavior revealed a “very different person.”
Filner, who is divorced, was convicted of felony false imprisonment for restraining a woman against her will at a fund-raiser on March 6 and applying additional force when she resisted. His attorney, Jerry Coughlan, has said it was a headlock.
The misdemeanor counts of battery were for kissing a woman on the lips without permission at a “Meet the Mayor” event on April 6 and grabbing another woman’s buttocks at a May 25 rally to clean up an island in San Diego’s bay. None of the victims have been identified.
Nearly 20 women have publicly identified themselves as targets of Filner’s unwanted advances, including kissing, groping and requests for dates. His accusers include a retired Navy rear admiral, a San Diego State University dean and a great-grandmother who volunteers answering senior citizens’ questions at City Hall.
The charges do not involve Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, who expedited the mayor’s downfall by becoming the first to go public with sexual harassment allegations in July. She has filed a lawsuit against Filner and the city, claiming her boss asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.
Gloria Allred, McCormack Jackson’s attorney, said outside court that Filner was “one lucky man” for being spared jail time.
“Mr. Filner, count your blessings. Your freedom is a gift which you do not deserve,” she said.
McCormack Jackson did not speak.
Filner disappeared from public view after leaving office Aug. 30, less than nine months into a four-year term. He said little when he resurfaced six weeks later to plead guilty in San Diego Superior Court, but his attorney told reporters then that the former mayor “profusely apologizes” for his behavior.
The former mayor devoted himself to jogging, getting therapy and talking to friends after leaving office, his attorney said in October. Television news crews hoping for a glimpse of Filner were disappointed when he showed up at jail a day earlier than expected for booking.
Filner was elected San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years, promising to put neglected neighborhoods ahead of entrenched downtown business interests.