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Filner: ‘A Fair, Independent Investigation Will Support My Innocence’

Above: Mayor Bob Filner addresses allegations of sexual harassment in a video.

As calls for Mayor Bob Filner to resign over sexual harassment allegations got louder Friday, the mayor refused to back down, sending out a statement at 6:30 p.m. saying he believes an investigation will "support my innocence."

If a sexual harassment claim is made, the city will investigate through the city's "Equal Opportunity Investigative Office" and take appropriate action, the statement read. It said if there are concerns related to the city conducting the investigation, an outside independent investigator could be used.

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Filner: Investigation Will Support My Innocence

Filner: Investigation Will Support My Innocence

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All of the accusations, statements and apologies from the key players in the developing story about allegations of sexual harassment in Mayor Bob Filner's office and calls from former mayoral supporters for his resignation.

“I am committed to ensuring a full, complete and independent investigation in response to any formal complaint against me," Filner's statement said.

“While I stand by my comments and pledge of yesterday to make changes to improve the workplace environment in my office, I am confident that a fair and independent investigation will support my innocence with respect to any charges of sexual harassment,” it continued.

This statement marked a shift from the mayor's words Thursday, when he said, "I’m clearly doing something wrong. I have reached into my heart and soul and realized I must and will change my behavior."

The mayor's statement Thursday acknowledged only that he failed to fully respect women.

His apology and a promise to change Thursday did not satisfy the growing clamor of voices calling for him to step down. In addition to the original three longtime supporters—former City Councilwoman and Filner's Director of Open Government Donna Frye and progressive lawyers Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez—prominent Democrats including City Council President Todd Gloria, City Councilman David Alvarez and State Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez and Toni Atkins called for his resignation Friday.

Alvarez said when he learned "first hand information regarding sexual harassment allegations" he immediately reported this information to the city’s Human Resources Department.

Filner's chief of staff Vince Hall also resigned his position Friday afternoon saying on Twitter that "as a lifelong activist for women’s rights and equality, I feel I must resign effective today."

KPBS first reported Frye, Marco Gonzalez and Briggs gave letters to Filner asking him to resign on Wednesday. The three former supporters repeated those calls during a press conference Thursday.

Marco Gonzalez represents "multiple women" who he says have shown credible proof of severe harassment. He says the mayor’s apology — delivered via DVD on Thursday afternoon — fell short and the allegations made by these women are far too serious to be dismissed.

"The mayor’s statement does not change our position that the mayor should resign," Gonzalez said. "If anything, what it did, it really spotlighted just how difficult it is for someone to come forward with allegations and specifics in this sort of situation."

KPBS and inewsource have been investigating sexual harassment allegations against the mayor for several months. Sources have described the mayor's behavior as including inappropriate comments, kissing and groping. None of the women KPBS has spoken with have agreed to allow their circumstances or their names to be used for publication because of fear of retribution.

Filner appeared at a regularly scheduled meeting Friday of the San Diego Association of Governments.

But he announced that afternoon that he is not appearing at Saturday's Pride Parade out of concern "that the current controversy surrounding me could distract from the importance of what the whole Pride movement stands for."

Gonzalez said the media scrutiny and the stigma attached to being a victim are huge concerns for women in choosing to come forward, especially when the person they accuse is the most powerful man in the city.

Comments

Avatar for user 'ConcernedCitizen2'

ConcernedCitizen2 | July 12, 2013 at 3:37 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

The Mayor has hit bottom, lost his relationship and his planned wedding, and has been publicly humiliated. He admitted the problem which is a good first step, he has apologized and is apologizing, and he admits he needs help and is getting it.

Good for Cory, Donna and Marco to stand up for the alleged victims. Good for Lorena and Toni to express their opinions.

All constructive. Let's take a breathe, let the news cycle move along and see how the process unfolds.

San Diego is coming out of some serious financial challenges and needs to get re-balanced. The Paradise Plundered judgments got us into a serious mess with a right wing reaction and now we get to be led by a Mayor with left wing reaction.

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 12, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

If he retires he will have to pay his own legal fees for the upcoming lawsuits. If he stays the city's taxpayers, the majority of whom voted for him, will pick up the lawyers fees and monetary settlements. Oh yeah, he can still feed his ego and expensive habits at the city trough while being sued.

He will not retire unless he ends up in prison like his fellow congressman Randy Duke Cunningham.

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Avatar for user 'loudlong'

loudlong | July 12, 2013 at 4:32 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Mayor Filner can't attend a Pride parade, because his presence will be too "distracting," but he somehow thinks he can govern elected officials, staff and a public that have no confidence in or respect for him. Astounding chutzpah.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 12, 2013 at 4:55 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Filner has chosen to apologize and admit his behavior and treatment of women to be inexcusable. Based on his record and style, this was more out of crafty politics versus sincerity. Based on what I've seen in his performance as mayor I believe Filner lacks the determination, people skills, and inspiration to bring our city together. He is not the person anyone will turn to in tough times as people have turned to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, or former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, or Eleanor Roosevelt, or any other person of character. His bully-boy style, arguing and finger-pointing are not what we expect or need at a time the financial crisis in San Diego has never seen worse.

I don't see Filner doing the next right thing for San Diego, which is to resign and let the city move forward. His legal advisors probably informed him the persons accusing him of sexual harassment can sue him with himself footing up the bill. By staying in office it will be the San Diego taxpayer footing his legal bills.

Another thing to keep in mind, the actual accusers need to be the ones coming forward and speaking out. Until they do, the accusations will eventually be seen as baseless. I've seen in my time persons make accusations against managers in the workplace and fellow coworkers for harassment, some sexual, some bullying, but harassment nonetheless. Only those who came forward and submitted an official complaint in writing and agreed to make further statements for the HR to investigate saw any justice at all. The ones who refused to assist in an investigation out of fear of retaliation, or did not want to be seen as a rabble-rouser, or fear of losing their job (all of which could possibly happen) were eventually forgotten.

Bottom line, the accusers need to come forward. They need to put faces and names to their accusations, press forward with an official lawsuit, and eventually Filner will be pushed out of office. Yes, we'll foot the bill, and it will be a long drawn-out case. City Hall will move forward. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but forward nonetheless. Filner's career will be tarnished forever by the scandal of receiving 100k from a developer for special treatment and these harassment issues. His behavior will overshadow any good out of his legacy in politics. As he gets older (hard to believe he's 70 and still in politics----like we don't have a younger capable generation) this will bother him. That will be the accusers solace. Maybe some financial reward too. Who knows.

Whatever we want to believe, the accusers need to be seen and heard from their own lips, and not the lips of others speaking for them.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 12, 2013 at 6:01 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

But Filner announced this afternoon that he is not appearing at tomorrow's Pride Parade.

===

He won't even go to an easy event like the Pride Parade surrounded by the very people that elected him. He should be there begging for forgiveness. What a coward.

It is going to be a VERY long time before San Diegans trust another Democrat.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 12, 2013 at 8:40 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

Lorena Gonzalez: Mayor Filner isn't the only male in power in San Diego who is doing this.

OK, so who else?

Let's just get it all out in the open now.

Lorena is the sister of the lawyer representing the women accusing Filner, why not talk to women who are being abused by other "males of power" in the city?

What's better for the city, get it ALL out now, or have one of these fiascos occurring every year down the line.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | July 13, 2013 at 8:06 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

an Independent Investigation may just uncover more dirt.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 13, 2013 at 11:41 a.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

The accusers need to come forward and make their case. They've drawn their line in the sand, but so has Filner. He's claiming an independent investigation will support his innocence. Believe it or not, he's not far from wrong.

It's difficult to prove harassment. Everyone's perception of harassment and bullying are different. I've seen people make false claims of harassment to escape accountability of their own inappropriate behavior----and get away with it! HR is not the answer to everything.

We've heard from Donna Frye and other high-profile city officials. Now we need to see the evidence to support the claims of harassment. Until we do this is little more than a bru 'haha. Don't get me wrong, at this stage Filner has lost the respect and credibility to leave. He should leave....

....But he won't. He will need to be forced out.

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Avatar for user 'BarryJohn'

BarryJohn | July 13, 2013 at 1:41 p.m. ― 9 months, 1 week ago

hmmm- on one hand he admits he has acted inappropriately towards women, that he needs professional help and sexual harassment training -- on the other hand he thinks he is innocent ??? hmmm again, I smell narcissism, deeply ingrained

maybe he is trying to split hairs in terms of what his definition of sexual harassment is? it sounds like he has created a hostile work environment and that any reasonable woman would determine such.

I hope Marco, Frye & Briggs quickly unleash whatever they have to stave off protracted political theater

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