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Former Filner Intern: Mayor’s Staff Witnessed Alleged Harassment

KPBS has learned a 23-year-old San Diego man who served as a communications intern in the mayor's office earlier this year claims that he witnessed Mayor Bob Filner sexually harass women.

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Declaration of Christopher Baker

Declaration of Christopher Baker

Full statement from Christopher Baker

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.

KPBS obtained a legal declaration filed with attorney Marco Gonzalez, in which the intern, Christopher J. Baker, alleges that members of Filner's security detail knew of sexual harassment — and in some cases, watched it happen — but did not stop it.

During a press conference in La Jolla, the mayor began talking to one woman, Baker alleges. Baker wrote that he heard Filner tell the woman she was beautiful and ask about her relationship status.

Baker, in his statement, said he felt uncomfortable watching the exchange and confronted a member of Filner's security detail about it.

"I...asked him about the seemingly inappropriate nature in which the Mayor was conducting himself," Baker wrote. "The officer responded 'You know CJ, this is the hardest part of my job, watching him do this.'"

Baker said he also witnessed the mayor with women, being "very touchy, in a way that he never is with men."

Baker stated "Aside from the Mayor loosely using the word, 'bitch' in the context of women, the physical contact is what I noticed most."

On another occasion, Filner was set to fill in as host for a morning radio show featuring who Baker called "a high level education administrator."

Baker's statement alleges that after the show, "the Mayor disappeared with her down a dark hallway beyond unlit cubicles.

"As the Mayor disappeared behind a corner, a member of the Mayor's security detail came running up to me and asked where he went. I responded by explaining that he was down the dark hallway with the woman, after which the member of the detail let our a defeated sigh and awaited the Mayor's return."

Baker said he told the mayor's spokeswoman, Lená Lewis, and she urged him to tell her if anything like that happened again.

Baker's unpaid internship in the mayor's office began in May and was to last through the middle of August. However, he has left the mayor's office because he "decided that it compromised my moral compass too much to continue working in that environment.

"It's not how my father raised me to behave around women."

Comments

Avatar for user 'llk'

llk | July 26, 2013 at 12:56 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Although I largely agree with his positions on the issues, and have respect for the efforts he has made to enact substantive political change throughout his entire career, the unfortunate reality, simply put, is that Bob Filner has failed San Diego. The right thing for him to do would be to resign.

There are more than a few intelligent, charismatic, hard-working, well-connected progressive Democrats in this city (and maybe even a few Republicans too) who are not only fully capable of leading the city, but also don't have a record of sexual harassment. These individuals deserve a chance to prove themselves as mayor. In fact, because of his reprehensible actions, they are more deserving of that chance than he is.

From here on out, every moment Mr. Filner remains in office is a moment of injustice to our future progressive leaders.

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Avatar for user 'HarryStreet'

HarryStreet | July 26, 2013 at 2:03 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

Filner's press conference pretty much was an admission of some guilt. I say some because he did not flat out state he actually harassed the people around him. There's no way his state of mind is one the people of San Diego can rely on now. Therapy takes years to correct. He still believes this issue is due to the change of generations no before us. Well 20 years ago sexual harassment was addressed in the work place, too. That would put him at 50 years old, an age where he still knew better than to act the way he did.

The longer he remains in office the more embarrassing this will be for our city. Imagine Bob holding a press conference and being asked a month from now, "Hey Bob, how goes the therapy?" Or "Hey Bob, have you suffered any relapses?"

If he truly wanted help he would resign and check in to these clinics. This is an obvious attempt for him to hold office, not seek help and redemption.

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Avatar for user 'russfox'

russfox | July 26, 2013 at 2:58 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

I couldn't agree more with IIK and HarryStreet! I am a progressive liberal and I had to vote for DeMaio, because I found Filner not to be fit for Mayor. I met Filner twice, one was his own fundraiser. I felt strongly then, as I do now, his behavior makes him unqualified to run our city. It's not just his behavior with women, but towards nearly everyone. He is obviously doing damage to our city, but also, he doing damage to the Democratic Party. Guys like Jess Dufree should be very ashamed of advancing him forward. His failure to resign is going to be a huge mark on the Democratic Party and there is sure to be a decline of registered Democrats. Every liberal out there should be pissed as hell. Any Democrat that still backs Filner is a huge fool.

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Avatar for user 'Stell'

Stell | July 26, 2013 at 7:17 p.m. ― 1 year, 3 months ago

After reading Christopher's declaration I initially thought "Poor kid, working in an environment like that as a formative experience." Then, I also thought about his comments about how his parents raised him and supported his decision to leave that internship and realized that he is very lucky in important ways. It is so sad to see Filner's career end this way, but it is his career rather than the Democratic Party that will suffer the fatal blow. Some people like to think the scandal reflects poorly on San Diego, but shouldn't we all be proud that something that was, no doubt, tolerated in DC was not here in San Diego? People within the Democratic party decided to put an end to it. His sort of abuse has been going on throughout the ages and finally we have a time, a place and a party in which women are empowered enough to put a stop to it. Irene McCormack and all the people who supported her (including Christopher Baker)are the new heros.

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Avatar for user 'cosmicpix'

cosmicpix | July 27, 2013 at 9:39 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Mr. Filner was elected to execute an agenda. If he can no longer carry the agenda forward, then (regardless of the reasons) he must resign. The rest of this sordid tale will work itself out in the courts.

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Avatar for user 'David Lucero'

David Lucero | July 27, 2013 at 11:04 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

The entire nation is following this story because the media loves a good scandal. It's good for ratings. I have to admit I've never been this glued to this type of subject since Clinton-Lewinsky or the Iran-Contra Affair.

I understand why people close to Filner never came forward until now. Unless persons who have been sexually harassed and/or intimidated come forward to officially press charges, then we only have 'rumors' to go on. And rumors cannot bring justice the way formal charges and due process can. Although rumors usually lead to hidden truths, it's formal charges and evidence we need to rely on.

I'm disappointed our judicial system will make us wait a year and a half before it reaches court. Under the circumstances the dockets should be emptied and this brought to trial now. Our city cannot possibly move forward with Filner in office. Do they expect us to sit back and wait nearly two years for a decision to be rendered by the court?

Filner has admitted guilt! A doctor specializing in therapy Filner claims to seek has stated it could be up to ten years of therapy for a patient. What does Filner think two weeks will do? With everyone (especially his friends and democratic party) leaving him, his psychological state of mind will only grow worse, leaving him in a more unfit way to lead the city. It's obviously not about his vision for San Diego at this point. That ship has sailed. He's trying to salvage his legacy in politics. A man of his experience should know there are certain things a person cannot rebound from. What he is going through right now is one of them.

Step down, Bob. You've done enough.

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Avatar for user 'MarineRoom'

MarineRoom | July 29, 2013 at 9:41 a.m. ― 1 year, 2 months ago

Stell, I like your positive point of view.

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