Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Racial Justice | Election 2020

Video Shows Filner Answering Questions About Sexual Harassment Scandal

Photo credit: Associated Press

Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, right, sits with his lawyer, Earll Pott, in Superior Court Judge Robert J. Trentacosta's courtroom, Dec. 9, 2013.

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.

Special Feature Filner Files

The pointed questions come more than a year and a half after Filner spent a summer avoiding questions from Team 10.

During that time, nearly 20 women came forward, accusing Filner of harassment. He would eventually resign, then strike a plea deal on three charges to avoid jail time.

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."


San Diego News Matters podcast branding

KPBS' daily news podcast covering local politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings so you can listen on your morning commute.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.