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Filner Announces He Will Enter Counseling Clinic; Says Nothing Of Resigning

Evening Edition

Above: Mayor Bob Filner reads a prepared statement in which he says he is entering "behavioral counseling" to address allegations of sexual harassment.

Aired 7/26/13 on KPBS News.

After facing an onslaught of sexual harassment allegations and demands that he resign, Mayor Bob Filner today announced he would enter "a behavioral counseling clinic."

After facing an onslaught of sexual harassment allegations over the past two weeks, Mayor Bob Filner today announced he would enter "a behavioral counseling clinic" beginning August 5 to "begin the process of addressing my behavior."

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.

Filner read a prepared statement to a room packed with reporters in City Hall. But he did not answer any questions, nor did he address the many demands that he resign his office.

Mayor Bob Filner tells reporters he will enter a behavioral counseling clinic, July 26, 2013.

He said he would be in the clinic full time August 5 to 19, and would be briefed on city activities every morning and evening. He did not say whether he would continue to act as the leader of San Diego during that time, or if someone else would temporarily take on that role.

Seven women have gone public this week with allegations of unwanted sexual advances by the mayor, and a growing chorus of local and national leaders have called for his resignation. The San Diego County Democratic Party voted Thursday night to ask Filner to resign and Friday morning the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee repeated that request.

Filner's statement admitted only that he failed to respect women and engaged in intimidating conduct. Women have told KPBS that he groped them, tried to kiss them and refused to take no for an answer.

Filner's said his actions have "undermined what I have spent my professional life working on: fighting for the equality and justice of all people," his statement said.

"It is simply not acceptable for me to try to explain away my conduct as the product of the standards of a different generation."

Filner said he has apologized to his staff and others he's worked with "over the years," and "we have instituted changes in how the mayor's office is run." He did not say what those changes are.

"However, words alone are not enough," he said. "I am responsible for my conduct. And I must take responsibility for my conduct by taking action so that such conduct does not ever happen again."

The mayor looked somber, read slowly and carefully, and was dressed in a grey suit, white shirt and red tie, a departure from the flashier colors he often chooses.

Reaction to the mayor's statement from fellow politicians was mostly negative. Members of the San Diego City Council called his apologies and plans to get treatment not nearly enough.

"Bob Filner's announcement that he will be taking a leave of absence prolongs the pain he is inflicting on our city, at a time when San Diegans are calling for an end to this civic nightmare." said City Council President Todd Gloria. Like Filner, Gloria is a Democrat, and his expressed desire for Filner to resign predated the latest statement by Filner.

But today another council Democrat, Sherri Lightner, indicated it was time to Filner to step down. In a statement sent to media organizations today, she said, "I have personally met with the mayor and requested he resign." This means only two of nine San Diego councilmembers, both Democrats, have not demanded the mayor's resignation.

The four Republican members of the council also renewed their calls for Filner's resignation. City Councilmember for District 7, Scott Sherman, stated the city should "accept nothing less than Bob Filner's resignation and/or arrest."

Francine Busby, chairwoman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said Filner's press conference had no effect on the group's call for Filner to quit. Gloria Allred, the attorney representing Irene McCormack Jackson in the only lawsuit filed against the mayor, called the Filner's decision to receive therapy "a ploy to stay in power and to try to gain sympathy."

"It is ridiculous to think that he needs therapy in order to understand that women deserve respect and should not be treated like pieces of meat," she said.

An odd moment occurred halfway through the mayor's reading of his statement, when the audio on his microphone cut out. Filner stood in front of reporters for a few minutes while his staff attempted to repair it, smiling somewhat awkwardly and saying nothing. One reporter shouted a question of where the counseling clinic would be, but Filner's staff immediately responded that there would be no questions.

Filner then went into a side room while a new microphone was set up. After a few minutes, he returned and re-read the statement from the beginning.

Filner ended by saying he "must become a better person."

"And my hope is that by becoming a better person I put myself in a position to someday be forgiven," he said. "However, before I can even think of asking for forgiveness, I need to demonstrate that my behavior has changed."

Comments

Avatar for user 'BarryJohn'

BarryJohn | July 26, 2013 at 1:20 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

he obviously needs therapy - but this is mostly likely going to be a lifelong pursuit/maintenance program - if he is truly narcissistic as was implied by the psychologist whom he allegedly forced himself upon, the narcissism is usually considered an engrained personality trait- I support him doing this work BUT on his own time as a private citizen - I also think that there is a dynamic at work whereby all is closest supporters and advisors all have a stake in keeping their jobs etc by doing anything possible to try to keep him in office; so besides what may be his own narcissism keeping him from resigning we have other people with a financial stake involved advising him to hang on, and the two week therapy effort is designed to defer resignation when for all intensive purposes he has lost all credibility as a leader -the recall effort therefore has to proceed post haste - there also needs to be a charter amendment somehow allowing for a Mayor to be removed when somehow deemed to be mentally impaired or grossly violating policies, without having to go through the recall process, and that new process should not necessarily be easy, but more efficient than a recall process. I wish him well with treatment as a private citizen. I want him out of office ASAP.

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Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 26, 2013 at 1:31 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

There's nothing impressive about the ability to stand in front of a room and read a prepared statement. I wish he would have had the courage to answer questions.

His counseling shouldn't be my problem. I want him out of office ASAP too. It's only fair to San Diego's future progressive leaders who don't have a record of sexual harassment.

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | July 26, 2013 at 1:38 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

took too long to get to this point in the problem

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Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | July 26, 2013 at 1:54 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago


I wouldn't put it pass them if some or much of this was politically motivated. The hoteliers didin't like him because Filner stuck to his guns. Goldsmith doesn't like him because their personalities clash. The hyper-feminists don't like him simply because he's a male and this is the perfect opportunity to get rid of him. The gays didn't like him because he voted for DOMA in '96 or '97., The Teebirchers didn't like him because simply for being a Democrat. And who knows, maybe even some anti-Semitism?

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 26, 2013 at 1:56 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

The one thing a leader in any position cannot afford to lose is respect. When one does it is either a long road to regain the respect one needs to lead, or you never get it back at all. Fair or not, that is the way it is.

At this point we know Filner's guilty of mistreating women. Harassing them even. He admitted it again. We know any financial settlement San Diego pays to the victims may be counter-sued for Filner to repay the city, so his attempt to hide his money under veil of the mayor's office is out. At this point he can only remain in office for one reason.

....Ego.

You need to leave office, Bob. We deserve better.

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Avatar for user 'Brittania'

Brittania | July 26, 2013 at 2:29 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

To say I was pretty disgusted by the KPBS news commentary on the Filner press conference earlier today would be an understatement. The tone of the dialogue between the presenters was almost sympathetic. The poor man has an addiction. He can't help his compulsive sexual behavior. He needs long-term therapy. He is a very difficult position--if he admits his disgusting behavior and apologizes, he potentially faces criminal prosecution for sexual battery. Serial killers have compulsive addictions too--they are addicted to violently murdering people. Should we excuse that behavior and allow one of them to run our city? Bring on the DA and let Filner know that such criminal conduct, whatever the underlying causes are, is not tolerated in our society.

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Avatar for user 'Eddie89'

Eddie89 | July 26, 2013 at 2:59 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Sexual harassment and murdering people are not the same thing and do not carry the same penalties.

Yes, Mayor Filner should seek treatment and maybe someday he'll be a better person because of that. But, until then, he should no longer be Mayor of San Diego.

Hey, maybe in four years he can run again as a "new" and "improved" Bob Filner!

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Avatar for user 'Chip'

Chip | July 26, 2013 at 3:43 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Sounds like more of the same self-incrimination he demonstrated when this first came out (see link to compilation below).

I voted for him, and am disappointed that Democratic insiders enabled him to run. It took a team of sycophants to keep this "secret" for years. It seems that this harassment was regarded as "normal" for Team Filner. His ego and disconnect from reality are scary (a monster within), and he is clearly not fit for running this city, where now, he can't be alone with a woman!!

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Avatar for user 'theRose'

theRose | July 26, 2013 at 4:03 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Which "hyper-feminists" would that be Missionaccomplished? The ones who campaigned and voted for him because they believed in his work? The same ones who probably also campaigned for and voted for our male president? Or are you the rare observer of a forest-dwelling coven who devote their lives to avoiding all men, joining civilized society only when a chance to unseat a man in power presents itself? Could you also clarify for me whether Todd Gloria is a "hyper-feminist" whose only issue with Filner is that he's a man?

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 26, 2013 at 4:03 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

He should have taken the class before he embarrassed our fine city in front of the entire country. He has no class and he showed it. Run this clown out of the city before the law suits start. Anyone claiming this guy does wrong after all this news should sue the city for lack of acting on the previous claims. In any reputable establishment of employment, he would be fired. He is making a mockery of sexual harassment and the public trust.He makes Weiner of New York look like a boy scout. LOL

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 26, 2013 at 4:15 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

"He did not say whether he would continue to act as the leader of San Diego during that time."

===

He's not the leader of San Diego RIGHT NOW.

He abdicated his authority to the unelected interim Chief Operating Officer Walt Ekard.

Why are we paying Filner or even referring to him as mayor?

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Avatar for user 'russfox'

russfox | July 26, 2013 at 4:22 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

I've got a question for Filner. If he is found guilty of any form of sexual harassment, would he resign?

I bet he wouldn't. More likely, just more apologies.

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Avatar for user 'BarryJohn'

BarryJohn | July 26, 2013 at 6:23 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

of note as well - is his this announcement as another flip flop in terms having any shred of integrity - his first video statement admits some level of guilt & responsibility -- he then makes statements re: how with due process he will be found innocent -- then statements about claims not being valid -- now back to I need help, I am a bad boy with a psychological problem -- every step is calculated , and I must add, poorly-- the first admission was probably meant to appease Frye et al, betting that accusers would not come forward; then he dug heals in with the "due process" PR tagline to buy time, then attacking the first victim who came forward, with her claims not being valid, as she was the only one -- then after more came out, people like Admiral Froman, there is some realization that I cant attack all these people as liars, so now he is back to " I did bad things, I need help" - he should be out of office for his inappropriate behavior -- and for his flip floppy response to the charges. he really is showing that he is totally unfit for office.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | July 26, 2013 at 7:29 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

Could be.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | July 26, 2013 at 7:32 p.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

That is, in response to missionaccomplished's musings. He is certainly upsetting the status quo in regard to the distribution of money and power.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | July 27, 2013 at 8:15 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm taking bets as to when he cries on TV while holding his bible in his right hand. That has worked well in the past for several pathetic people like Swaggert. Get that hanky out Bobby, it is time to ramp up your unsuccessful pity party.

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Avatar for user 'TheDiegan'

TheDiegan | July 27, 2013 at 11 a.m. ― 1 year, 1 month ago

I am bothered by all this talk about how other members of the Party in Congress must have known about Filner. Some say he was called Filthy Filner and some say others in the Party just kept quiet about his bad actions--but what a lot of hooey! The Party would tell us if they knew this before he ran for mayor. There could be no cover-up happening.

What's good is the Party's Central Committee had secret votes to ask him if he would mind stepping down and after the second vote they decided yes they would ask him. Maybe he would help the Party by that.

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