skip to main content

Listen

Read

Watch

Schedules

Programs

Events

Give

Account

Donation Heart Ribbon

Filner Defiant As Details Of Alleged Sexual Harassment Emerge

Evening Edition

Aired 7/16/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.

Guest

Todd Gloria, San Diego City Council President

Transcript

Aired 7/16/13 on KPBS News.

Mayor Bob Filner refused to resign and said he is innocent until proven guilty, as former supporters calling for his resignation give lurid details about alleged harassment.

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.

Just like last week, former Councilwoman Donna Frye, and attorneys Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs — three ex-supporters of Mayor Bob Filner — gathered Monday before a throng of cameras to ask for the mayor’s resignation. Just like last week, they did not say how many women had come to them with claims they were sexually harassed, nor did any of the women themselves come forward to accuse the mayor.

However, they did offer specific details, accusing the mayor of a long-running pattern of sexual harassment and even assault. They said the mayor has a modus operandi, a way of getting women alone and forcibly kissing and touching them. They volunteered the anonymous stories of three women: a constituent, a woman who campaigned for Filner, and an employee who worked in the mayor’s office.

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.

Frye described in elaborate detail the story of one alleged victim. She said Filner grabbed the woman’s breast, putting his hand beneath her bra, and forced his tongue down her throat.

Gonzales related details from the victim who was in Filner’s employ — he said early on in the mayor’s term, she complimented the mayor, telling him he was doing a good job. The mayor responded that he would do a better job if she gave him a kiss. She laughed it off as a joke, Gonzalez said, but he said she soon became aware that the mayor was serious, continuing to harass her and others both physically and verbally.

“There is no circumstance under which it would be appropriate for the mayor to enter into an elevator with my client or any person who he employed and to tell them that they would do a better job on that floor if they worked without their panties on,” but that, Gonzalez said, is precisely what happened.

Gonzalez described certain moves Filner had that earned names among those who know him, like the "Filner dance" and the "Filner headlock." The former was the dance they allege Filner did when he kissed a woman who was pulling away; the headlock, an overly friendly way of pulling women close to him so he could isolate them.

Frye was visibly upset, her emotional appearance at last week's press conference was replaced with anger and frustration. Responding to questions as to why the women were not coming forward, she raised her finger and voice, “Bob Filner is the problem, not these women for not coming forward. Bob knows exactly what he did, the people up in that office know what he’s been doing, the people in the press know what he’s been doing, so don’t look at me," she said.

She called him “tragically unsafe for any woman to be around.”

Frye also worked for Filner before resigning in March to take another job. She said the moment she heard credible claims from a victim, she came forward.

Thronging behind Frye, Gonzalez, and Briggs were Filner supporters who held signs that read “Due Process For Mayor Filner.” Throughout the press conference, they called out to the three accusers to give the names of the women or file formal charges so that Filner could have his day in court.

Chistine Mann came to show her support for the mayor. She said she believed the proper process for dealing with sexual harassment had been circumvented. Mann said she was worried Filner is being railroaded in a push for political power.

“I feel like we’re being bullied by a handful of people in our government who want us to do basically what they tell us to do—to just trust them,” Mann said. “That there are these women who—the acts have been so horrific and egregious—that they cannot go on record and they cannot go through due process.”

To Mann, it doesn’t add up.

City of San Diego

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

Yet, lawyer Gonzalez — who had campaigned for Filner — said the mayor already admitted he had crossed the line in a videotaped interview handed out to the press on Thursday. Gonzalez said the mayor’s statement was a flat out admission he had done something wrong. The mayor faced the camera, in a seemingly candid speech that asked for forgiveness, and said, “I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me, and with me,” adding “at times I have intimidated them.”

Gonzalez said this admission already puts the mayor in violation of California’s sexual harassment laws. “That is due process,” he told protesters.

Gonzalez went on to say that when he and Fyre approached the mayor with these charges, Filner did much the same thing — admitted culpability and promised to change. That change, Gonzalez said, never came, “he didn’t understand what he has done was wrong, and yet he admitted that he did it.”

Gonzalez said the mayor’s conflicting statements paint a picture of a man desperate to hang onto power, “and on one statement in one day, he says 'I apologize for treating women without respect, I apologize for intimidating them.' The very next day he says I’m innocent — what does that tell you?”

Filner has repeated his assertion he did not sexually harass women. He told KUSI that he is a “hugger” of both men and women but not an abuser. He said his actions were taken in an offensive manner but they weren’t meant in one.

"My whole political career has been one of being an outgoing person. And I have to deal with that, certainly, in a more self aware way," he said.

Filner went on to criticize his critics for taking hearsay and gossip for truth, and he criticized the lack of due process provided him.

“There’s been no charges as far as I’m aware. There’s been press conferences, there’s been anonymous sources, but there are no charges," he said.

Filner also penned an op-ed piece published Monday evening in the U-T San Diego in which he elaborated on his plans and again stressed his innocence. He acknowledged being a tough boss writing, "As mayor, I have very high expectations for our City, and when people I’m counting on don’t perform, I get upset. I now recognize that approach has been seen by some as disrespectful."

Filner denied that his brusque demeanor ever crossed the line into sexual harassment saying, "There’s a big difference between being a difficult guy to work for and being guilty of sexual harassment, as has recently been alleged." The mayor said there is no resignation letter in his future.

Gonzalez said his clients will go forward with filing sexual harassment claims through the proper channels. He said he wasn’t sure whether that meant lawsuits would follow or what this scandal will cost taxpayers. He also said nothing about the women coming forward to tell their stories in person.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | July 16, 2013 at 7 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Mr. Filner, the shame is not in being mentally ill, the shame is in not admitting it and seeking treatment .

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 16, 2013 at 7:40 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

But he did admit he needs help. That's not shameful. What's shameful is saying that the City should pay for that treatment, which he also said.

I'm done with Filner.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 16, 2013 at 12:33 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

I think anyone who makes physical unwanted advances to anyone, especially to employees, should not be mayor.

I also think Bob Filner probably has done this things.

BUT, not I said I "think" he did these things.

I still have not seen a single piece of tangible, non-hearsay, evidence presented.

For this reason, I can't support a mayor calling for the resignation of someone who claims he is being falsely accused.

While I don't believe the Mayor is being totally honest about this, I firmly support someone being able to see the evidence against them before being bullied to step-down.

If A bunch of people decide to accuse Marco Gonzalez of groping them, regardless of whether or not he is guilty, he would have the right to due process before being disbarred.

If someone had accused Donna Frye of something whilst she was on the council, guilty or not she would have the right to some sort of due process before being forced to step-down.

Carl Luna, someone who quote frankly provides very little provocative thought for being an "expert" claims that due process is only required in legal proceedings, not political ones.

That's a dangerous statement.

That basically means that anyone can be accused of anything and as long as it causes a big enough fiasco, the target can be forced out regardless of evidence or guilt.

We need to think beyond Filner, and think about fairness for how anyone should be treated.

If you are accused of sexual harassment at work, your boss can't call on you to quit. Rather, an impartial process must occur to determine the truth, then appropriate action is taken.

Even though I believe Filner is not being 100% honest, I don't appreciate city leaders like Frye, Gonzalez, Gloria, et al. Trying to bypass Filner's right to due process.

They would expect de process if they were accused of something, Filner should get the same.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 16, 2013 at 12:41 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Gloria said Filner should resign because the scandal has made him unable to govern.

That is NOT a valid reason.

Filner should resign if he is guilty as charged.

I dont think Filner is innocent, but there needs to be some due process.

What if Gloria was falsely accused of raping someone and it caused a huge scandal and made it impossible for him to function seamlessly as council president? Is the fact his job performance is impacted enough to force him out despite his guilt or innocence?

I would want to see some form of due process if such allegation occurred and I expect the same for Filner to determine his guilt or innocence.

I believe due process will in fact reveal Mr. Filner's guilt, but that is no reason for me to suggest we should completely bypass due process!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'ConcernedCitizen2'

ConcernedCitizen2 | July 16, 2013 at 1:36 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Donna Frye lost plenty of credibility with her hysterics yesterday. The two lawyers were unknown my most before they did their news conference and the one without the tie was a bit unprofessional and domineering. If they have credible people with credible claims, they should bring them and work through the process. Let the mayor get back to work with his new team running the City. The mayor admitted he has a problem and is getting professional help. Everyone is on notice and the mayor ought to be dateless for a while.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 16, 2013 at 3:52 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

The city should have a process for this in which anyone accused is suspended if the accusations are substantial and an investigation takes place THEN, if unfavorable proof comes out we can talk about demanding someone resign or be recalled.

Ms. Frye and the lawyers would have looked more professional had they called for an investigation and suspension rather than demanding someone resign without due process.

I realize Ms. Frye may have personal friends and/or colleagues who were fondled by Filner and she is extremely angry, but that doesn't give her the right to circumvent due process and then come out angry at a news conference and let it fly like Mussolini from the balcony.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 16, 2013 at 3:56 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Duck and UnconcernedCitizen2,

I would have written off the claims if it had been one person or a Republican. But this is coming from a wide variety of his own supporters, the City Council (both parties), and most importantly HIS OWN STAFF.

When Filner's chief of staff, deputy chief of staff, and communications director ALL resign at the same time, plus his fiancee leaves, you know the claims are legitimate. Why else would they go? Because of baseless claims? Please. The exact opposite. They are credible and they know it.

Filner has lost all credibility, respect, and the ability to lead. He can still have due process out of office as a regular citizen. But we the people of San Diego need to move on.

Filner MUST RESIGN NOW.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'RLA'

RLA | July 16, 2013 at 4:46 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Two points:
1. I believe that the Donna, Marco and Corey gave it their best try to help the city and Filner avoid major embarrassment. Predictably, that attempt has failed and I have to agree with Duck that it is time for "due process" in some form to begin. These women will have to come into court and testify in either lawsuits or criminal cases.

2. So much for minimizing exposure for San Diego and the local Democrats. All the salacious details were up front on Fox News' national show today and I expect that it will be just too tempting for the mainstream media to ignore.

Filner has " circled the wagons" and set his strategy. He cannot be embarrassed and the only right thing in his mind is taking care of Bob and his perceived self importance.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 16, 2013 at 4:48 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Frye had better leave her emotions in check. It could cost the alleged victims justice. You can't expect a mayor to resign without formal charges being made. If that were the case, George W. Bush would've left office immediately.

The alleged victims will not be proven to be actual victims until they press formal charges against the mayor. Indictments will be made, a trial set and played out. A verdict rendered. It's called due process. If the alleged victims want justice they need to stop being told that to come forward with formal charges is to be subjected to being victimized twice. It's due process. Like it or not, until this issue goes to court Bob Filner is innocent until proven guilty.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 16, 2013 at 4:58 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

CA Defender, I believe Filner is guilty.

But that is just my opinion based on the HERSAY that exists.

Not one EYEWITNESS has come forward to say they have seen Filner commit sexual harassment or a sexual assault.

If I am missing someone, then please correct me and tell me who this person is.

And random Internet posters don't count - anyone can type anything - I want the name of one credible witness who says they saw Filner act in this manner.

So far all we have are he said he said type things, people saying "we'll, we all know he's like that" or people talking about his temper which isn't the same thing as sexual assault.

I just have a problem telling anyone they have to abandon their job based solely on hearsay without an investigation and evidence.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 16, 2013 at 5:59 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Duck,

It isn't just about the alleged sexual harassment crimes he committed. Countless scandals already surround him including an FBI investigation for taking bribes. Plus he's the laughing stock of the nation and has given our city more of a "Ron Burgundy" reputation than Will Ferrell ever could.

Every decision he makes from now on is tainted and suspicious. He can't even be left alone in a room or elevator with women. How sad is that? How is he supposed to lead? He no longer has any respect or credibility as mayor.

It is time for him to resign.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 16, 2013 at 6:09 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Oh and Duck, you want a name? His ex-fiancee Bronwyn Ingram.

From KPBS:

The ex-fiancee of beleaguered San Diego Mayor Bob Filner says she ended her relationship with him because he became increasingly abusive toward her and began sending sexually explicit text messages to other women in her presence.

Ingram said she witnessed what she called a “severe deterioration in Bob’s ability to engage with anyone in a civil manner, myself included.” During a recent trip to Paris, she said, Filner screamed at her in public without provocation, among other “inappropriate and disrespectful acts.”

"The mayor’s office is now paralyzed, engaging only in defensive posturing," Ingram said. "The work of the people and for the people has ceased. I therefore urge Bob to put the best interest of the people of San Diego first and submit his resignation."

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 16, 2013 at 6:24 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

CADefender, there are also quotes from his ex-fiancé saying she didn't personally witness any sexual harassment.

What she says he did in France to her is awful, but it's still not direct witness of sexual harassment, it would qualify more as a domestic dispute.

Texting other women while engaged makes him unsavory, but that and arguing with her on a trip are not the same as actually groping strangers or making passes at subordinates at the office.

Even though you have always disliked Filner and consider his policies to be "corrupt", that's not the basis for those calling on him to resign - its specifically because of sexual harassment charges.

The FBI investigation is just that - an investigation.

Let's start crucifying people without due process and start throwing the book at them or things that haven't even been investigated yet?

Like I keep repeating, I think Filner is guilty of sexual harassment and should be forced out if and when an investigation provides tangible evidence.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 16, 2013 at 7:16 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

D. Frye at the news conference yesterday:

Less like the level headed progressive I know and love, more like the screaming Bill O'Reilly I know and hate.

I know she means well and she is truly upset, but I am really disappointed with ow,she is handling this.

She should detach from the parasitic lawyers and work on getting WITNESSES to come forward if the accusers won't.

I mean come on, Filner has apparently been slithering around town like Silvio Berlusconi on E, I find it really impossible these "brilliant" lawyers can't find at least ONE person to come forward who can say "I SAW THE MAYOR GROPE A STRANGER. I SAW THE MAYOR MAKE LEWD REMARKS TO A SUBORDINATE AT WORK".

It just boggles my mind that someone this apparently overtly sex-crazed and two top lawyers and between the both of them they can't muster one person to come forward on the record!?

I'll tell you what, if someone gropes me in public and I decide to sue, I sure as hell won't be calling Gonzalez or Brigg's firms.

Just the other day Briggs was quoted as saying he didn't know if the alleged actions were criminal or not.

HELLO? YOUR the lawyer, maybe find out? Call a colleague? Look it up?

The incompetence here is stifling.

If Filner does manage to crawl through this and survive, we know who to blame - - hideously inept legal hacks!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | July 17, 2013 at 2:48 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Todd Gloria just can't wait to get his hands on the powers of the mayor's office. I suspect Gloria is going to be disappointed. There are far more honest and better qualified candidates waiting in the wings like Senator Chris Kehoe or Donna Frye, and the current mayor has no plans to retire before the term in office he was elected to ends.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'sdmike1974'

sdmike1974 | July 17, 2013 at 6:13 p.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

What's up with the ultra angry press conferences by the three people trying to oust the mayor?

I can understand showing uncontrollable anger toward the Mayor.

But what I don't understand is why Marco Gonzalez, Cory Briggs and especially Donna Frye are showing so much anger toward the media during their press conferences.

Did you see Donna on Monday? She came across like some enraged maniac -- and I am someone who has supported her in the past. Marco Gonzales was not much better.

Why all the anger directed at the media? Given how conservative most of the media is in this town I would think they'd all be basically on the same team cheering for a Democratic major's ouster.

Something doesn't smell right and it makes me wonder about a hidden back story.

What do you think?

( | suggest removal )