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With deal in place, will San Diego mayor quit?

August 22, 2013

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego Mayor Bob Filner kept his low profile Thursday amid speculation he will resign as part of the sexual harassment settlement negotiated by his lawyers and city officials.

Meantime, the lawyer for a former Filner aide who sued the mayor said the deal doesn’t resolve her lawsuit, a potential sticking point to approval by the City Council. Details of the deal struck Wednesday were kept private ahead of Friday’s expected closed-door vote by the City Council on whether to accept the terms.

The sex scandal swirling around the Democratic mayor has plunged San Diego, which sits across the border from Tijuana, Mexico, into political turmoil. At least 17 women have claimed Filner sexually harassed them, though only one lawsuit has been filed.

Filner, a 70-year-old former congressman who was elected mayor last November, has seen his support all but evaporate. Pressure to resign has come from all nine members of the City Council and a laundry list of fellow Democrats including top members of Congress. A recall effort has started and organizers have gathered about 10 percent of the roughly 100,000 signatures needed to call an election.

A person with knowledge of the negotiations said the main sticking points during the talks involved granting Filner indemnity in the lawsuit brought by his former communication’s director, Irene McCormack Jackson, and paying his legal fees. The person was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

McCormack Jackson and her lawyer, Gloria Allred, participated in the first of three days of negotiations but Allred said she never signed off on a settlement and doesn’t know any details. She wants Filner to resign but doesn’t believe he should have legal bills covered by the city and urged the council to reject the proposal if it includes that provision.

“There should be no payoff for Mayor Filner,” she said.

Filner’s lawyers issued a statement Thursday confirming the settlement but declined to provide details “due to the confidential nature of mediation and settlement discussions.”

Francine Busby, chairwoman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said voters will accept nothing short of resignation as part of a settlement.

Former city attorney Michael Aguirre said he expects that next week the political discussion will be about who will be the next mayor.

“If you read the tea leaves, the people demanding his resignation seem satisfied with settlement,” Aguirre said. “I think it’s pretty clear he’s going to resign.”

Filner refused to resign when the scandal first broke and announced three weeks ago that he would undergo therapy for his behavior. He acknowledged he has disrespected and intimidated women but denied any sexual harassment.

He hasn’t had any public events since returning to work this week following the therapy.

McCormack Jackson was the first woman to go public with harassment allegations. She claimed the mayor 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. Other accusers include a university dean and a retired Navy rear admiral. Some contend he cornered, groped and forcibly kissed them.

Filner’s former fiance, Bronwyn Ingram, called off their planned wedding in June, saying it was because Filner seemed unable to control his impulses toward women.

The latest accuser to come forward is Dianne York, who said Wednesday that Filner placed his hand on her buttocks while she posed for a photo with him about three months ago.

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