Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Pleads Guilty To Felony, Misdemeanors
October 15, 2013 1:09 p.m.
Amita Sharma, KPBS Investigative Reporter
FUDGE: Our top story today is today's dramatic turn of events in the scandal that forced San Diego mayor Bob Filner to resign. Last year, former Congressman Bob Filner became the first democratic mayor elected in San Diego in nearly 30 years. But the joy of political progressives turned to sadness as repeated allegations of sexual harassment came to light. In the face of the growing scandal, Bob Filner resigned at the end of August, already facing a civil suit. He was also facing a criminal investigation led by the state attorney general's office. Today, Filner appeared in conspire court in San Diego to two misdemeanors and one felony. Here is the courtroom recording of the judge reading Filner's charges and asking him to respond.
[ AUDIO RECORDING PLAYED ]
JUDGE: One alleges a violation of code section 236 and 236, a felony false imprisonment by violence. How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty?
FILNER: Guilty, sir.
JUDGE: And as to count 2, which is a violation of Penal Code section 242/243, it is a battery as a misdemeanor, and to that count, how do you plead?
FILNER: Guilty, sir.
JUDGE: And as to count 3 which is also battery, in violation of Penal Code sections 242 and 243, as a misdemeanor, how do you plead?
FILNER: Also guilty, sir.
FUDGE: That's Bob Filner appearing in court this America. Joining us now is Amita Sharma, she was in the courtroom today.
SHARMA: Good to be here.
FUDGE: What was it like in that courtroom?
SHARMA: It was serious
Full of anticipation. I think we all got a sense that some kind of plea agreement had been reached between Bob Filner and the state attorney general's office, which was the agency investigating the sexual miss conduct allegations that we had heard ever so publicly this summer. The courtroom was about half full with reporters, lawyers, and relatives of the victims. Former mayor Bob Filner walked in, he looked like he had lost weight. He sat in between two attorneys. He spoke animatedly with them. At one point, he turned to the gallery and smiled at everyone. That trademark Bob Filner smile. And then the presiding judge walked in.
FUDGE: He sounded like he was in good spirits strangely enough.
FUDGE: We heard the recording, but the sound was a little bit dark. What did he plead guilty to?
SHARMA: He pleaded guilty to one count of felony fall imprisonment, and two counts of misdemeanor battery. At one point, the representative from the state attorney general's office spoke up and basically outlined the charges that Bob Filner was facing. One of them was back in March of this year. He was going to be -- he was charged -- well, actually the event took place in March of this year, and it involved a woman whom we are told is Jane doe No.†1. Bob Filner was accused of restraining her against her will at a fundraiser. And this is connected to the infamous Bob Filner headlock. The judge asked him if that allegation was true, and he said yes. The second count, misdemeanor battery, occurred in April of this year, and it involved Filner kissing a woman on her lips without her permission. Again the judge asked Mr. Filner if that was true, he responded with yes. The third allegation involved Jane doe No. 3, who had gone to visit him involving city business, and he grabbed her on her backside, the judge asked him if that was true, and Bob Filner responded with yes.
FUDGE: I was surprised to see that these victims were described as Jane doe.
SHARMA: I think through the normal course of action, when you have cases involving sex yell battery, to protect the victims' privacy, it's generally kept private.
FUDGE: There was a plea agreement. Testimony us what the former mayor is facing based on that.
SHARMA: He is going to serve probation for thee years, and he will also be confined to his home for thee months. The agreement also bans Filner from ever seeking public office again. He will have to surrender his pension from the date that the felony was committed this year. And he's not allowed to vote. And that's a pretty tough term for a former City Council machine and mayor.
FUDGE: And he's not going to serve any jail time?
SHARMA: If he violates the terms of his probation, he faces up to six months in jail.
FUDGE: And did we hear anything today through the attorney? Either the prosecutor or the defense attorney. Did they speak to the press?
SHARMA: Well, a representative from the state attorney general's office said in court today that she believes this agreement strikes the right balance between justice and closure. And Jerry Kaufman also spoke today. He said that in the past, Bob Filner had admitted that his conduct was over the top. And today he admitted that it was criminal. He said he believed that Mr. Filner's plea today puts these allegations behind him and will allow him to continue his rehabilitation, and that he again apologized to each of the women he has harmed, and he vowed that his conduct will not occur again. And I think there's an attempt now to salvage Mr. Filner's public service. There is a sentencing hearing in December. And the defense attorney was trying to put out
That Mr. Filner has a great legacy of achievement and accomplishment. He was a freedom writer in the 1960s, he was a college professor for 20 years, he was on the City Council, he was a Congressman and mayor, and Mr. Filner doesn't want this legacy to be destroyed.
FUDGE: Kamala Harris said his conduct was not only criminal, it was an extreme abuse of power, and it shows no one is above the law, she added. Any final thoughts on this? Does any of this come as a surprise? What do you think this means?
SHARMA: Well, it doesn't come as a surprise. This summer almost 20 women came out publicly and accused Bob Filner of sexual harassment. It would have been extremely difficult for Mr. Filner to overcome these charges in a trial. Because this is so public and because there appeared to be a pattern. It is also a very human story that we've seen time and again repeated in this country with politicians. We'll see if he tries to -- if he tries to somehow rehabilitate himself and enter the public arena. Again, he quantity run for public office, but he might serve in another way. For now, what we learned today is that since he left office on August 30th, Filner has been spending time in therapy. That continues. He's been jogging, he's been talking to friends and trying to reconcile what motivated him to do this.
FUDGE: Thanks for joining us.
SHARMA: Thank you, Tom.