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Four Men Accuse San Diego Unified Trustee Kevin Beiser of Sexual Misconduct, Abuse

March 20, 2019 1:40 p.m.

GUEST: Andrew Keatts, reporter, Voice of San Diego

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Related Story: Four Men Accuse San Diego Unified Trustee Kevin Beiser of Sexual Misconduct, Abuse

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Our top story on mid-day edition today a lawsuit filed anonymously against a San Diego Unified School Board member this week alleges sexual harassment and asks for unspecified damages. Other young men have also come forward with similar allegations against board member Kevin visor a longtime Middle school teacher in Chula Vista. Visor has been on the board since 2010 and served recently as board president Pfizer denies any inappropriate behavior and so far is resisting calls including those from groups who backed his re-election last fall to resign. Joining me is reporter Andrew Keats of Voice of San Diego.

Welcome. How you doing. Well Andy start with the lawsuit against Kevin visor filed by a John Doe described as a man who ran unsuccessfully for San Diego City Council.

What does it allege. It alleges a years long experience of manipulation sexual harassment eventually in a couple instances show sexual assault and sexual battery between this person who in addition to running for office on his own had worked as a campaign manager for Kevin visor in 2014 and then later did some political consulting work in his re-election campaign in 2018. So he describes the first time he met him. He was an intern for Susan Davis in D.C. in 2013. Congresswoman Congresswoman Susan Davis in 2013 went out for drinks with Kevin to discuss potentially working for his re-election campaign the following year describes being plied with drinks while Kevin was not drinking.

He now believes leading to a sexual encounter in his hotel room that he immediately regretted and then later arranging for this professional relationship that would begin the following year. And then as I spoke to this John Doe before the lawsuit was filed in that incident he did not share with me what he did share with me was what occurred after that which was during the course of his time working as a campaign manager a sort of persistent unwanted relationship in which he would flirt with him come onto him pretty aggressively pretty heavily everything from rubbing his legs if they were sitting next to each other at a political event playing footsie with him too while they were working in boxers home which was serving as their campaign headquarters making direct sexual requests of him.

Okay so a lot of inappropriate allegations or allegations of inappropriate behavior by Baez or neo also including this anonymous man you spoke with three other men who did come forward and were on the record described generally what they're alleging.

So there are three different people they all were brave enough to put their name on the record. One of them is Patrick McFarland. He ran unsuccessfully last year for city council in Chula Vista. He describes being with Kevin baser at the Sacramento at the Democratic Convention for the state party in Sacramento in 2017. Said he didn't know many people at the convention base or took him under his wing and was introducing to a lot of powerful people. And then later in the night they were in a lift or an uber going to a bar and Bowser put his hand on his thigh and ran it up into his his crotch area when he grabbed it and threw his hand away from him.

Later that night he says Pfizer sent him his hotel address and room number and then he describes a situation which over a course of months he told a few friends. He told four different people all of those people have independently in different separate interviews with me confirmed the same basic details that he shared with me about what had happened. They were told after the fact one of them who was told immediately after the fact was current Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Padilla. He confirmed the same basic details the other three are party activists who've been in the press at different times and they all described that at a certain point after this there became a sort of rumor mill that was circulating within the Democratic establishment that something had happened between Patrick and Kevin and many of these rumors were in fact false and that eventually culminated with Jesse Durfee who's the former chair of the local party's DNC National member.

He confronted Patrick and said I've been hearing a lot of rumors are these substantiated what happened. He did present him with a very specific rumor that was false. Patrick told him that was not true and just said well if it's not true and you know he doesn't have anything to worry about you should tell Kevin that which he says he did.

All right. And Kevin Binder the member of course of the San Diego Unified School Board at the center of this. What has he said. He's issued a statement yesterday regarding the lawsuit and all of these allegations yeah he issued a statement.

So I reached out to him Sunday night and told him that I was working on the story and that it was time for him to talk to us. He did not respond until around midday yesterday midday Monday I should say. He finally responded and said please send me a written summary of all the allegations against me. I did that and then he did not ever respond.

After that after multiple repeated requests for more comment and then the lawsuits filed and that Utah has the story. And then after our story published he issued another issued his first formal statement in which he said none of this is true. I intend to defend myself vigorously. He said he believes this is all politically motivated. He also said that he first heard of these allegations less than 24 hours earlier which is not accurate.

OK. And visors long had the backing of local Democrats so it was no surprise when the county Republican Party spokesman called yesterday for him to quit. But what are Democrats now saying.

So Democrats moved pretty quickly. The largest club in town the Democrats for equality they immediately called for him to resign. And then last night there was. They voted on a resolution the formal party the Central Committee of the Democratic Party held an executive session we were not allowed to watch. I was standing outside waiting for the results. They needed two thirds majority of all the present members to call for his resignation to pass a resolution calling for his resignation. And they did so it was 58 to four so overwhelmingly the members of the party want Kevin Bowser to step down.

Kevin Bowser to step down now what about the San Diego Unified board. What's been their reaction to the lawsuit and your stories.

They were quiet until just this morning I just received word just the voice of San Diego. We received a comment from John Lee Evans from the school board saying that because of the multiple credible accusations that Kevin by certain needs to step down he deserves an opportunity to defend himself in court. John Lee Evans said. But at this point he cannot serve on the school board.

Have we heard any reactions from the school district itself teachers union. No we have not. OK. Now the story's moving swiftly I think as we can all tell. And should Baez resign or be removed. Do we know what the processes for replacing him.

No I do not know the process for replacing and there'll be a follow up story and we can look forward to that. Are you surprised at how much reaction you're getting now to your story and the allegations.

Well I think the allegations are very serious. I think you know it was a I took my time writing the story. The lawsuits certainly put things into a bit more urgent introduced a timeliness and made them very newsworthy to get them out quicker. But I was taking my time because they're very serious and if you know if you read the story each person's allegations are troubling in different ways and it's pretty clear that they were having a tough time.

We're curious about the timing of this didn't come out of course before the election last fall. The allegations are many years old. What about the timing in this coming up now.

So when I talked to the four individuals one thing that each of them said was that the Eric Bauman situation the state party chair who was forced to resign after a number of allegations of sexual misconduct he was a gay man against other gay men deeply influenced them and Democratic Party chair the Democratic Party chair for the state and that they realized that they had an opportunity to do something about this. They didn't want to talk about it last year one of them was running for office two of them were running for office at the time and they didn't think it was good for their campaign controversy is not good but they decided to do this now.

They said they they do cite Batman's influence as as something that lit a fire under them and made them decide and they also decided that they they had a all or none agreement between the four of them that they wouldn't go forward unless all of them went forward.

I've been speaking with reporter Andrew Keats of Voice of San Diego. Thanks Andy. Thank you.

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