Video Shows Filner Answering Questions About Sexual Harassment Scandal
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Former mayor Bob Filner admitted it wasn’t unusual for him to make comments with sexual innuendos while serving as mayor.
The admission came during more than eight hours of deposition video obtained by 10News.
The deposition, including testimony in January and another session in early March, was taken in the case of former executive assistant Benelia Santos-Hunter, who says Filner harassed, groped and asked her for sex, sometimes in the mayor's private office.
“Do you ever say to Benelia, ‘Do you know how beautiful you are. You need me as my lover,’” asked Santos-Hunter’s attorney Josh Gruenberg.
“No sir, “ answered Filner.
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The pointed questions come more than a year and a half after Filner spent a summer avoiding questions from Team 10.
He apologized for “inappropriate behavior," and we're learning more about what he may have meant.
In one part of the testimony, he's asked to define sexual innuendo.
“That there be an undercurrent of sex to statements made,” answered Filner.
“Would you often engage in that?” countered Gruenberg,
“Occasionally,” responded Filner.
“How often in a month? Or a week?” said Gruenberg.
“A couple,” said Filner.
Filner admitted to kissing Santos-Hunter's forehead, but nothing else.
“Did you ever recall saying 'Benelia have a seat in my lap?' 'I’ll bend you over a desk?' 'Go lie on the conference room table.' 'I want to see more.' 'Pull your skirt up further.' 'I’m still great at sex. For an old guy, I still have it,'” asked Gruenberg in a series of questions.
Each time, Filner responded, “No Sir.”
Filner also denied groping or asking any of his accusers for sex.
At points, Filner became testy when Gruenberg noted he was being unresponsive.
When he was asked about invading the personal space of women, Filner gave this response: “I haven't admitted it. I said some thought I did it.”
The City Attorney's office, which is defending Filner, declined comment. They've settled two of seven Filner-related cases. Gruenberg issued this statement:
"The mayor, as Chief Executive of the city sexually harassed Benelia Santos-Hunter. The work environment was hostile and offensive and included the Mayor making comments about Ms. Santos-Hunter's body, sex appeal, as well as numerous propositions for sex. Most of the harassment took place in the Mayor's private chambers; at times the door was locked and Ms. Santos Hunter was unable to leave. The mayor had a reputation for seeking retribution against his detractors. Benelia witnessed Mr. Filner seek vengeance against those who he perceived had done him wrong. As such, Ms. Santos-Hunter was very fearful of retaliation and losing her job. As a result of the harassment and the hostile work environment, Ms. Santos-Hunter suffered extreme emotional harm, including humiliation, and anxiety resulting in many physical symptoms. Her doctors put her on disability and have not released her to go back to work."
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