Filner: 'A Fair, Independent Investigation Will Support My Innocence'
As calls for Mayor Bob Filner to resign over sexual harassment allegations got louder Friday, the mayor refused to back down, sending out a statement at 6:30 p.m. saying he believes an investigation will "support my innocence."
If a sexual harassment claim is made, the city will investigate through the city's "Equal Opportunity Investigative Office" and take appropriate action, the statement read. It said if there are concerns related to the city conducting the investigation, an outside independent investigator could be used.
“I am committed to ensuring a full, complete and independent investigation in response to any formal complaint against me," Filner's statement said.
“While I stand by my comments and pledge of yesterday to make changes to improve the workplace environment in my office, I am confident that a fair and independent investigation will support my innocence with respect to any charges of sexual harassment,” it continued.
This statement marked a shift from the mayor's words Thursday, when he said, "I’m clearly doing something wrong. I have reached into my heart and soul and realized I must and will change my behavior."
The mayor's statement Thursday acknowledged only that he failed to fully respect women.
His apology and a promise to change Thursday did not satisfy the growing clamor of voices calling for him to step down. In addition to the original three longtime supporters—former City Councilwoman and Filner's Director of Open Government Donna Frye and progressive lawyers Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez—prominent Democrats including City Council President Todd Gloria, City Councilman David Alvarez and State Assemblywomen Lorena Gonzalez and Toni Atkins called for his resignation Friday.
Alvarez said when he learned "first hand information regarding sexual harassment allegations" he immediately reported this information to the city’s Human Resources Department.
Filner's chief of staff Vince Hall also resigned his position Friday afternoon saying on Twitter that "as a lifelong activist for women’s rights and equality, I feel I must resign effective today."
KPBS first reported Frye, Marco Gonzalez and Briggs gave letters to Filner asking him to resign on Wednesday. The three former supporters repeated those calls during a press conference Thursday.
Marco Gonzalez represents "multiple women" who he says have shown credible proof of severe harassment. He says the mayor’s apology — delivered via DVD on Thursday afternoon — fell short and the allegations made by these women are far too serious to be dismissed.
"The mayor’s statement does not change our position that the mayor should resign," Gonzalez said. "If anything, what it did, it really spotlighted just how difficult it is for someone to come forward with allegations and specifics in this sort of situation."
KPBS and inewsource have been investigating sexual harassment allegations against the mayor for several months. Sources have described the mayor's behavior as including inappropriate comments, kissing and groping. None of the women KPBS has spoken with have agreed to allow their circumstances or their names to be used for publication because of fear of retribution.
Filner appeared at a regularly scheduled meeting Friday of the San Diego Association of Governments.
But he announced that afternoon that he is not appearing at Saturday's Pride Parade out of concern "that the current controversy surrounding me could distract from the importance of what the whole Pride movement stands for."
Gonzalez said the media scrutiny and the stigma attached to being a victim are huge concerns for women in choosing to come forward, especially when the person they accuse is the most powerful man in the city.