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Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner Pleads Guilty To Felony, Misdemeanors

Evening Edition

Disgraced former Mayor Bob Filner pleaded guilty in Superior Court today to one felony count of false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor battery as part of a plea deal with the state Attorney General’s office.

Aired 10/15/13 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Amita Sharma, KPBS Investigative Reporter


Aired 10/15/13 on KPBS News.

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner on Tuesday pleaded guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment by violence, menace and deceit, as well as two misdemeanor counts of battery.

Special Feature Filner Files


Attorney General Kamala D. Harris' Statement

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris' Statement

“This conduct was not only criminal, it was also an extreme abuse of power,” said Attorney General Harris. “This prosecution is about consequence and accountability. No one is above the law.”

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In announcing the plea deal, Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement: “This conduct was not only criminal, it was also an extreme abuse of power. This prosecution is about consequence and accountability. No one is above the law.”

Filner, who resigned from office on Aug. 30, does not face jail time. Instead, he will serve three years probation and be confined to his home for three months under the plea arrangement, Harris said.

What Is Bob Filner's Legacy?

The agreement also requires that the former mayor and longtime congressman undergo psychological treatment, and prohibits him from voting, serving on a jury or owning a firearm during the three-year probation period.

California law allows Judge Robert Trentacosta to also require that Filner register as a sex offender, based on this conviction. But a source told KPBS news that such an imposition is almost never made in such cases here in San Diego and that it’s highly unlikely in Filner’s case.

The former mayor also forfeits his mayoral pension from March 6 – the date the felony was committed – to the end of August when he resigned. He also agreed to never seek public office again.

Filner may also be subject to fines and restitution for court fees and the cost of probation when he is formally sentenced on Dec. 9.

Filner, who appeared to have lost considerable weight since appearing before City Council to resign on Aug. 23, said little beyond stating his name and concurrence during the brief hearing before Trentacosta this morning.

But his attorney, Jerry Coughlin, read a statement to reporters outside of court. It read, in part:

“This was Mr. Filner’s chance to put all of this behind him. A chance to put into action and continue the ongoing rehabilitation that he has begun.

“His conduct he admitted in court and has admitted was inappropriate, over the top and today admitted it was criminal. Mr. Filner profusely apologizes to each person he might have harmed and this permits the various women to put all of this behind themselves too, and to know that his conduct will not occur with anybody else in the future.

We wish to commend the attorney general’s office for their diligent insight and toughness – and I’m going to emphasize that – and willingness to come to a resolution which is appropriate for anyone.

As the deputy attorney general said, this resolution balances justice and closure and that was Mr. Filner’s goal, our goal, and the attorney general’s goal and I think this is the first step along that course.”

Answering a reporter's question, Coughlin added: "I think he’s a much more humbled man, in my own personal view from the first time I met him early in this. I think that, to start out with, this is something that he did not realize was as bad as it was perceived by other people. And rehabilitation – he’s got ongoing counseling going on. — having to go through this process, I don’t think any one of you ever want to issue a guilty plea in a court – it’s a very sobering event."

The criminal investigation by the Attorney General’s office and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department stems from accusations that surfaced last summer.

Filner's Summer Of Scandal

The Filner saga began in July when three fellow Democrats and former staunch supporters of the mayor – including former Councilwoman Donna Frye – held a pair of press conferences stating that he had made unwanted sexual advances to numerous women and called on him to resign.

Former Councilwoman Donna Frye speaks at a press conference calling for Mayor Bob Filner's resignation, July 11, 2013.

Contacted by phone in Philadelphia where she’s visiting, Frye had this to say about Filner’s plea agreement:

“I am very gratified that it appears that Bob has accepted responsibility for his actions which I think will help bring the women some justice and some recognition of how they were treated and that it won’t happen again.

“But I also hope that this sends a broader message to anyone who thinks that this behavior is alright and sends a clear message that it is not.”

Frye’s revelations were soon followed by the filing of a sexual-harassment lawsuit by former Filner aide Irene McCormack-Jackson. At a press conference, she detailed how the mayor put her in a headlock, whispered that loved her, wanted to kiss her, wanted to see her naked and “consummate their relationship.”

How Bob Filner Managed To Alienate So Many People In A Long Political Career

“I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women,” said McCormack-Jackson, who was represented by celebrity attorney Gloria Allred.


Mayor Bob Filner's Resignation Speech

(It is unclear the status of the Jackson-McCormack lawsuit, nor that of two other subsequent suits by a pair of other women.)

Filner’s former aide was the first of about 20 women to come forward publicly with similar complaints about Filner grabbing them, making lewd comments, attempting to kiss them, and making other unwanted advances.

Filner initially admitted he had not always treated women with respect, that he wrestled with a monster within him, and vowed to seek counseling for his behavior. But he wavered between admission and defiance as the scandal unfolded throughout the summer.

The mayor, under increasing pressure to resign and facing a recall campaign, agreed to enter a two-week counseling program while still performing his duties.

But with a wide range of city leaders -- including all members of the city council -- insisting he resign, Filner’s fate was cast.

A week of back-room negotiations among Filner and his attorneys, city council members from both parties and the city attorney, lead to a deal on Aug. 23 in which Filner agreed to resign and the city capped its contribution to his legal fees at $90,000.

But in a remarkable farewell address before a packed council chamber, Filner spent two minutes acknowledging his failings and another 10 minutes blasting his political opponents for hounding him from office. That speech followed more than an hour of mostly angry comments from die-hard Filner supporters during the extraordinary council session.

Council President Todd Gloria assumed most of Filner’s powers as interim mayor following the resignation. A special election was soon set for Nov. 19 to replace Filner as mayor.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | October 15, 2013 at 10:24 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

We'll get to read the specifics soon enough -- if the false imprisonment charge stems from his "abducting" his campaign worker in her own car, to have her drop him off at campaign headquarters -- it's be weak. If it involved his suggesting a constituent meeting with him on the first Saturday move to a broom closet near by, it'd still be weak. Assault can arise from any act of contact: retired admiral Fromann accused the Mayor (when he was still a congressperson) of touching her on the cheek. I voted for Filner in 2012 for social justice. I voted for Harris in 2010 for speedy and sure justice.

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | October 15, 2013 at 10:45 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Filner pleaded guilty before Superior Court Presiding Judge Robert Trentacosta to one criminal count of false imprisonment by violence, fraud, menace and deceit and two misdemeanor counts of battery.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | October 15, 2013 at 11:10 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

I hope the details of what exactly transpired will be released.

Certainly nothing I saw presented in the media during the sexual harassment scandal warranted a felony being charged.

A mayor who is criminal or an over zealous prosecution taking advantage of a high profile situation and a man with a witch-hunters target on his back?

I don't yet yet.

Show me the facts!

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | October 15, 2013 at 11:13 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Good. Now throw his sorry self in jail. If we put people in jail for misdemeanor drugs, he should get felony jail time. But he won't. He is still part of the political circle. Probation is what he will get. Justice is blind, my left foot. See if it is not so.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | October 15, 2013 at 11:16 a.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Filner pleads guilty to false imprisonment, violence, menace, deceit, and battery.

This is probably the first time Filner has been honest in his entire life. Too bad the Democratic Party never will be. They'll just keep pushing these deranged criminals into office over and over again.

Same with Republicans, but we expect it from them. Democrats try to hide behind their "progressive" curtain but now it is full of holes. I just wonder how many carbon copies of Filner are in Congress and the White House right now. Sickening to think about.

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Avatar for user 'DonWood'

DonWood | October 15, 2013 at 1:54 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

And the local media meat grinder grinds on. Kind of comic to watch all the local reporters try to catch up with this story. What will they do when Filner and the Chargers are gone? If there is no "news", what will they hold all their ads together with?

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Avatar for user 'philosopher3000'

philosopher3000 | October 15, 2013 at 5:23 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Wow, you can't even wipe the smiles off your faces.

The details just became known, Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner was convicted of Felony False Imprisonment, just like when bank-robbers take hostages, or Ariel Castro, the man who imprisoned three women by chaining them up in his basement for 10 years!

This is due to his signature move, dubbed by the press the "Filner Headlock", in which he "throws a choke-hold on a woman and drags her into a closet" before making sweet conversation.

Why this self proclaimed "monster" was allowed to attack women with felony abuse for so many years without anyone ever coming forward is still a mater of speculation. But this we know, Battery Bob will now be imprisoned and sexually assaulted by his fellow inmates for the rest of his life. He even admitted to two counts of battery, literally beating these women black and blue, leaving scars that will last them the rest of their lives!

To think that we allowed a FELON to run our local Government! Now that he will be on the registered sex offender list, we will all sleep better knowing Bob Filner can't live near schools or parks.

This is way worse than when Randy 'Duke' Cunningscam got 8 years for taking a few dollars in bribes. This is worse than when Ralph Inzunza, Michael Zucchet, took those bribes in the strip clubs. This is even worse than being drunk on the job while dozens are people are killed in the San Ysidro McDonald's massacre. And I expect the Felon, Bob Filner, to be punished just as severely!

(Actually, all the Mayor was accused of was hugging a City employee, Former Sanders Public Relations Advisor, Irene McCormack-Jackson. SHE SAID it was against her will, but she kept working for him, and she wanted to remain anonymous. Political revenge is a cruel mistress. Is Bob a true FELON, or just an awkward flirt? I guess it doesn't really matter, either way he pleads guilty, just as long as Jacobs gets to redesign Balboa Park.)

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Avatar for user 'thompsonrichard'

thompsonrichard | October 16, 2013 at 3:11 p.m. ― 3 years, 4 months ago

Granting children free admission to the zoo for the entire Pan-Pacific Exposition 100th Anniversary would be a good idea (no matter whose idea it originally was).

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