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Former Filner Supporters Provide Details Of Sexual Harassment Allegations, But Not Identities Of Women

Above: Donna Frye, joined by attorneys Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez, speaks to reporters at a press conference Monday, July 15 about sexual harassment allegations against Mayor Bob Filner.

Aired 7/15/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

GUESTS

KPBS Senior News Editor, Mark Sauer

Amita Sharma, KPBS Investigative Reporter

Carl Luna, Political Science professor, San Diego Mesa College

Patti Perez, is President & CEO of Puente Consulting, she's an attorney who practiced employment law and was also a Commissioner on California's Fair Employment and Housing Commission for three years.

David Peters, Psychotherapist with an office in Mission Valley

Transcript

Video

Press Conference

Above: Donna Frye and progressive lawyers Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez detail allegations of sexual harassment against Mayor Bob Filner.

Aired 7/15/13 on KPBS News.

KPBS Metro Reporter Sandhya Dirks has the latest on the detailed descriptions of allegations of sexual harassment against the mayor in an emotional press conference Monday.

Special Feature Read the Backstory

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.

Former supporters of Mayor Bob Filner provided more detailed descriptions of allegations of sexual harassment against the mayor in an emotional press conference Monday, hours after the mayor renewed his promise not to resign.

Former City Councilwoman and Filner staffer Donna Frye and progressive lawyers Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez read descriptions from women who have worked with or for the mayor, but did not provide the women's names. Gonzalez said his client, who worked for the mayor for six months, would be filing a sexual harassment complaint with the city.

Filner renewed his refusal to resign Monday morning, saying "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." Some protestors at the press conference held signs reading "Due Process For Mayor Filner."

The mayor also announced a new lineup of staff Monday morning.

Frye described two constituents who had encounters with the mayor. The first woman reported in a sworn affidavit that Filner grabbed her and kissed her when she met with him to discuss a downtown financial concern earlier this year.

The second woman volunteered for Filner's mayoral campaign, then met with him twice after he was elected. In the second meeting, Filner kissed the woman, "jamming his tongue down her throat," Frye said.

The woman had given Filner a ride to the meeting and felt embarrassed to refuse him a ride home. When they got in the car, Filner groped the woman's breasts, Frye said.

Gonzalez described what he said were commonly-used terms: "the Filner headlock," meaning the mayor wrapping his arm around a woman and directing her to a place where they can be alone, and "the Filner dance," when the mayor attempts to kiss a woman and she pulls away.

He also said Filner told his client that she would do a better job at work "without her panties on."

Gonzalez said the mayor's video apology on Thursday, in which Filner said he has "failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times, I have intimidated them" is an admission of guilt. While Gonzalez said his client will file a sexual harassment claim, decisions of whether to file lawsuits have not yet been made.

Gonzalez and Frye said their goal is to protect the women, who are reluctant to reveal their identities because of the scrutiny they might face.

"When you go forward as a woman who has been sexually harassed, the questions are, what do you look like, what were you wearing, what was your role?" Gonzalez said.

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.

The mayor also released a statement on Friday that declared his innocence in the face of increasing calls for him to abandon office. “I am confident that a fair and independent investigation will support my innocence with respect to any charges of sexual harassment,” the statement said.

On Friday night, Councilman David Alvarez said he had learned of “first hand information regarding sexual harassment allegations” and reported Filner to the city’s Human Resources department.

Congresswoman Susan Davis on Monday morning also joined the chorus of voices, including City Council President Todd Gloria and Filner's former fiancee Bronwyn Ingram, calling for the mayor to resign.

In addition, Filner’s chief of staff, Vince Hall, resigned Friday.

Hall used Twitter to communicate only twice during his time with Filner, first lauding his new job by tweeting “I am very honored to have been selected to serve as chief of staff to Mayor Bob Filner” and finishing with “as a lifelong activist for women’s rights and equality, I feel I must resign effectively today.”

Evening Edition

Comments

Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | July 15, 2013 at 7:25 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Good! bob I am on ur side!!! THANK U!!! We need u soooo bad!!!

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | July 15, 2013 at 7:30 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

"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. "

Give me a Gdamn break!!! If u want to demand Filner resign u SURE as HELL better show urselves and be willing to sign a legal document testifying to these facts. until then they r meaningless!

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | July 15, 2013 at 7:32 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Even the ex-girlfriends statement was so vague it was meaningless. None of what she said would hold up in a court of law as sexual harassment or abuse. someone better break out some REAL evidence fast because this is getting absurd!

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Avatar for user 'nikkineel'

nikkineel | July 15, 2013 at 7:33 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

This is a Coup d'etat by the developers that run this town and they play dirty.

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Avatar for user 'geodevos'

geodevos | July 15, 2013 at 12:19 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Oh good! Some news about San Diego city politics that didn't make me turn off the radio.

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Avatar for user 'geodevos'

geodevos | July 15, 2013 at 12:24 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Ummmmm..... what exactly is he apologizing for and exactly what behavior is he proposing to change if he did nothing wrong, (as all of the above so far seem to say)?

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 15, 2013 at 12:37 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

"This is a Coup d'etat by the developers that run this town and they play dirty."

Are u willing 2 sign a legal document testifyin 2 these facts?

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | July 15, 2013 at 12:40 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

If this ALLEGED VICTIM doesn't think this is important enough to make herself known, then I presume it's just a lover's spat, and not important enough to destroy the City, the election, and Mayor Filner. According to the story, she is reportedly associated with downtown issues, and not in control of her emotional reactions or courageous enough to step forward.

No one apparently SAW or RECORDED this alleged conduct, and we only have her heavily emotionally biased account. This sounds like a common Republican scheme to destroy the politician who is too effective.

Without knowing the source, we can't judge the credibility of that source. This is likely a personal relationship issue, not a public office issue. If this person chose to drive the mayor to his next destination, AFTER the alleged public kiss, then she wasn't too upset.

If I was in this situation (and like most people I've been there), I'd just explain that the suitor's feelings were not reciprocated and that I was only interested in a professional relationship. If there was any thought that such a romantic rejection would affect our professional business, I would simply put such concern in writing, in a private letter to the Mayor, and keep that as proof, incase there were any blow-back from the romantic fall-out.

The real issue is not the Mayor's actual job performance as a public official. It is our societies sexual morays and changing cultural politics. It's sad that our instinctual drives cause us to make such decisions, but we all are subject to them, and none of us are perfect. What has impressed me is that Bob Filner immediately responded in a mature and controlled example of professional accountability, in an attempt to limit damage to the City and his office (something a Republican would never do).

Filner may need to cut back on the HGH and Testosterone replacement therapy, but he's still the best Mayor for the job. (Bob grow up, she's 71! After menopause women don't have the same sex drive as men, stick with younger women, and keep it outside of office hours.)

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Avatar for user 'JCortez'

JCortez | July 15, 2013 at 1:41 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

The power of a big ego precludes some politicians from ever thinking their actions might have consequences. It's the only way I can justify Filner's actions.....and there is too much out there for him to be completely innocent. To proclaim him innocent is innocence itself, or simply naiveté.

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Avatar for user 'Pomerado'

Pomerado | July 15, 2013 at 1:57 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Usually I find KPBS one of the few remaining voices of reason in a rapidly disintegrating media landscape (particularly in San Diego). But the station seems to be adding to the feeding frenzy that the Filner accusations are becoming.

Take a deep breath, step away from the cliff, and let common sense guide you to ask more investigative questions, rather than jumping into the psuedo-journalism, sensationalistic fray. It's pretty hard to believe that Filner was rampantly and constantly engaging in the kind of behaviors that the crowd with the pitchforks are frothing about without it having been divulged previously or more forcefully.

Surely he has made serious mistakes and behaved unprofessionally and uncivilly, and his behavior requires correction and atonement.

But the coverage of this is becoming as shameful as the accusations many interests in San Diego are writhing to accuse him of without the possibility of his defense. One should ask why there seem to be many special interests who want to excite public outrage (and a resignation) prior to gathering facts (and names) and why the overwrought effort to depict Filner as a modern-day Caligula.

KPBS, help ratchet down the rhetoric and hysteria and don't pander to the bigger local media that is responsible for a great deal of it. Call for San Diegans to demand facts, names, and a thorough investigation of all sides prior to demanding decisions about how to go forward.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 15, 2013 at 2:17 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

I think KPBS has done a reasonably good job covering this - especially Amita Sharma who has personally interviewed some of the women making accusations and has revealed the substance of those interviews without interjecting bias or opinion.

With that said, I think the media and public in general should not use the fact that those calling for Filner to resign are former supporters/members of Filner's same political party as a substitute for tangible proof of the accusations.

Yes, it does add some credibility, however it shouldn't replace the need for non-hearsay evidence.

Infighting within political parties is quite common.

I also think KPBS relies too heavily on this Carl Luna person. His contributions to discussions seem to be stating the obvious. Isn't the point of an expert's opinion to allow us to think about things in a way we might not otherwise? Luna seems to more often than not state the obvious.

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Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 15, 2013 at 8:22 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

I hope all of the commenters above make it to Francine Busby's meeting this week to prevent her from jumping off the Filner bandwagon. The local Democratic committee has a lot to discuss and I am sure they will need assistance to help them rationalize their support for Filner.

Hmmm - I wonder if their previous knowledge of Filner's behavioral problems could leave them in range of Marco's upcoming lawsuits? Something to think about.

No worries, as long as he stays mayor the city will pick up the tab for all those legal fees and judgements. Just something to take the taxpayers' minds off the pension funding issues.

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | July 15, 2013 at 10:45 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

Anonymous allegations against a strong, effective Mayor, and KPBS jumps upon the bandwagon of corporate media to try Filner in the court of public opinion. Using words like 'Victems' and psychoanalyzing the Mayor. Why not ask these women some questions, like:
1) why didn't you report these issues at the time they happened?
2) why haven't you filed a law-suit?
3) why didn't the employee go to Human Relations?
4) why don't they want to stand-up in public and accuse the Mayor?
5) Do they have any financial interest in the issues that the Mayor's office might oversee?
6) have you ever hugged or kissed anyone in public?
7) are you single or married?
8) these are allegations are true, why did you allow yourself to be alone with your "perpetrator" of sexual harassment?
9) do you think that your actions are helping solve the problem of sexual harassment?
10) what did you do to document these alleged actions (witnesses, video, etc).

Now, pay very, very close attention to the ten relevant questions above. Not one of them reveals their identity.

Journalism requires integrity.

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Avatar for user 'BarryJohn'

BarryJohn | July 15, 2013 at 11:31 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

let the recall process begin at the same time - Filthner is asking for more pressure - Donna Frye et al should attack on all fronts - he is acting like a narcissist - at first admitting guilt - when he thought it would serve him - then his innocence - now he wants to attack his accusers - narcissists like to crush their enemies, they can be delusional, starting to believe that they haven't done anything wrong and they are in fact being persecuted - that video whereby he admits guilt is going to end up costing the city money -- the new interim CEO is extra money - get this guy out of there- RECALL FILTHNER

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 16, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

"The woman had given Filner a ride to the meeting and felt embarrassed to refuse him a ride home. When they got in the car, Filner groped the woman's breasts, Frye said."

Going out on a limb here, but I believe it's okay to let your sexual harasser walk home. Filner's attorneys are going to destroy this case with testimony like that.

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Avatar for user 'justthetruth'

justthetruth | July 16, 2013 at 11:34 a.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

this is to nikkineel and others that think alike. Please explain why almost all of the people that are asking Filner to resign are Dems and also people that worked hard to get him elected. to not believe them is to say that they are all lying and that all the workers and staff members that have complained are lying by completely concocting a story to get him out of office. Since that scenario does not make any sense then their stories must be true.

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Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | July 16, 2013 at 12:53 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

JTT,

Bob Filner already admitted his ogre-like behavior. I'm speaking for myself when I say that I don't believe a media circus with Donna Frye as the ringleader is necessary. Let the City of SD's human resources and police departments handle the matter. Donna Frye and the attorneys seem to be relishing the camera a little too much for my tastes. I don't know about anyone else, but at this point in this story I'm hearing the theme from the Andy Griffith Show in my head. Charge the man and get it over with.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 16, 2013 at 4:57 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

As close friends and supporters of Bob Filner it leaves us to wonder of Lorena Gonzalez and Donna Frye were aware of Bob Filner's inappropriate behavior from the get-go. Most likely they heard rumors again and again of his mistreatment of women. Rumors aren't the sort of thing any of us discount because they often lead to the truth scratching beneath the surface.

I have to ask the question, 'Why the sudden demand for Filner to resign?'

Is it really because they want justice for these women?

....Or is it his performance as major?

Filner is the first democratic mayor of San Diego in quite a long time. The way he's been burning bridges at both ends he's likely to ruin any chance of a second democratic mayor being elected in the foreseeable future. So are they trying to save the local democratic party's chances of holding the mayor's office, or really seek justice for the 'alleged victims.' I note 'alleged' because they are encouraging them NOT to come forward for the sake of saving them from being twice victimized instead of receiving justice through due process.

Frye and Gonzalez have known Filner for years. Is this dirty little secret only now coming to their attention? Don't get me wrong. I want justice for any women victimized too. But if anyone believes this type of questioning won't be put to them they are living in fantasyland.

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Avatar for user 'justthetruth'

justthetruth | July 16, 2013 at 6:16 p.m. ― 1 year, 5 months ago

This really has no bearing on whether or not Filner is a R or a D. anyone in that position that cannot understand how wrong his behavior is, is living in a dream world. The fact that all his accusers and the Dem leadership are also Dems takes me back to the heart of the issue. If they wanted to save his butt, they would have kept quiet. This is probably worse than we know now with most of the dirty laundry coming out later. There is no way that he can manage the city while he says he is trying to improve. He has hired some admin types to run the city. That is what we elected him to do. the salaries for his helpers are unlikely to be in the budget and once again, the taxpayers get stuck with the bill. he does not deserve another chance. At his age and responsibility over the years nothing is going to change with him. for the good of the city, he needs to step down. just like the republicans could not figure out why they could not beat Obama when he looked like he was vulnerable, the dems should have seen how bad Filner was as a candidate and in a year when they probably could have taken over the mayor's job for a few years, they have now blown that chance. it was clear from the start that Filner was a loose cannon with the outcome being inevitable.

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