City Employee Files Claim Alleging Sexual Harassment By Filner
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A city of San Diego employee who contends Mayor Bob Filner asked her for a date and placed her in a headlock at a municipal function announced her intention to sue the city.
Lawyer Daniel Gilleon, who represents Stacy McKenzie, the district manager for Mission Bay Park, filed a claim -- a precursor to a lawsuit -- with the City Clerk's Office. The filing alleges the mayor battered the 50-year-old woman "for his own sexual gratification'' and that the city failed to protect and warn employees against his "predatory nature.''
The city can decide whether to accept or deny the claim -- the latter option would lead to a lawsuit.
McKenzie, who first went public with her accusations against the mayor on KOGO Aug. 8, said Filner asked her for a date and placed her in a headlock at a city function at Mission Bay on April 21. She said he also grabbed her wrists so she was unable to move.
"What he did was wrong, what he did was not okay,'' McKenzie said on the station's morning show. "What he did shouldn't have happened to any one of us, regardless of what degree it was or how it came about.''
Other victims of sexual harassment by Filner, whose resignation becomes effective at 5 p.m. Friday, should not be afraid to come forward, she said.
Gilleon said his client did not want to "take the city down.'' However, the claim demanded $500,000 plus attorney's fees.
He said McKenzie, who has worked for the city for 32 years, had not decided whether to sue until she heard Filner's resignation speech Friday, in which he apologized but also denied accusations of sexual harassment. His client came to him in tears and decided to file the claim, he said.
McKenzie was the second of three city employees to accuse the mayor of making unwanted sexual advances toward them.
The first, Irene McCormack Jackson, hired Los Angeles-based lawyer Gloria Allred and sued on July 22. McCormack Jackson, the mayor's communications director at the time, alleged he told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he could not wait to consummate their relationship.
Filner also allegedly demanded kisses from McCormack Jackson and put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.
It was mediation over her lawsuit that led the 70-year-old mayor to resign after less than nine months in office.
A third city employee, 67-year-old great-grandmother Peggy Shannon, said Aug. 15 that Filner kissed her and repeatedly asked her for dates.
They're among nearly 20 women who have made similar accusations.
The City Council agreed to help defend the mayor against lawsuits arising from city employees, volunteers or contractors in exchange for his stepping down.