Former Filner Supporters Provide Details Of Sexual Harassment Allegations, But Not Identities Of Women
Monday, July 15, 2013
Photo by Christopher Maue
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KPBS Metro Reporter Sandhya Dirks has the latest on the detailed descriptions of allegations of sexual harassment against the mayor in an emotional press conference Monday.
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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.
Former supporters of Mayor Bob Filner provided more detailed descriptions of allegations of sexual harassment against the mayor in an emotional press conference Monday, hours after the mayor renewed his promise not to resign.
Former City Councilwoman and Filner staffer Donna Frye and progressive lawyers Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez read descriptions from women who have worked with or for the mayor, but did not provide the women's names. Gonzalez said his client, who worked for the mayor for six months, would be filing a sexual harassment complaint with the city.
Filner renewed his refusal to resign Monday morning, saying "as a citizen of this country, I also expect — and am entitled to — due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations." Some protestors at the press conference held signs reading "Due Process For Mayor Filner."
The mayor also announced a new lineup of staff Monday morning.
Frye described two constituents who had encounters with the mayor. The first woman reported in a sworn affidavit that Filner grabbed her and kissed her when she met with him to discuss a downtown financial concern earlier this year.
The second woman volunteered for Filner's mayoral campaign, then met with him twice after he was elected. In the second meeting, Filner kissed the woman, "jamming his tongue down her throat," Frye said.
The woman had given Filner a ride to the meeting and felt embarrassed to refuse him a ride home. When they got in the car, Filner groped the woman's breasts, Frye said.
Gonzalez described what he said were commonly-used terms: "the Filner headlock," meaning the mayor wrapping his arm around a woman and directing her to a place where they can be alone, and "the Filner dance," when the mayor attempts to kiss a woman and she pulls away.
He also said Filner told his client that she would do a better job at work "without her panties on."
Gonzalez said the mayor's video apology on Thursday, in which Filner said he has "failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times, I have intimidated them" is an admission of guilt. While Gonzalez said his client will file a sexual harassment claim, decisions of whether to file lawsuits have not yet been made.
Gonzalez and Frye said their goal is to protect the women, who are reluctant to reveal their identities because of the scrutiny they might face.
"When you go forward as a woman who has been sexually harassed, the questions are, what do you look like, what were you wearing, what was your role?" Gonzalez said.
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.
The mayor also released a statement on Friday that declared his innocence in the face of increasing calls for him to abandon office. “I am confident that a fair and independent investigation will support my innocence with respect to any charges of sexual harassment,” the statement said.
On Friday night, Councilman David Alvarez said he had learned of “first hand information regarding sexual harassment allegations” and reported Filner to the city’s Human Resources department.
In addition, Filner’s chief of staff, Vince Hall, resigned Friday.
Hall used Twitter to communicate only twice during his time with Filner, first lauding his new job by tweeting “I am very honored to have been selected to serve as chief of staff to Mayor Bob Filner” and finishing with “as a lifelong activist for women’s rights and equality, I feel I must resign effectively today.”
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