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Public Safety

Former Filner Aide Sues Ex-Mayor, City Of San Diego

Mayor Bob Filner tells the City Council he will resign.
Mayor Bob Filner tells the City Council he will resign.

A former executive assistant to ex-Mayor Bob Filner claims at least 36 instances of sexual harassment and battery over a six-month period in a civil suit filed this month.

The lawsuit, brought by Benelia Santos-Hunter, claims the harassment began in February last year when Filner kissed her on her forehead and commented on her looks. She alleges the ex-mayor routinely made sexual comments, groped her on at least four occasions and once locked her in his office kitchen and asked her to "'make love' or words to that effect," according to the suit filed Aug. 15 in San Diego Superior County Court.

Santos-Hunter requested a medical leave on Aug. 8, 2013, due to the ex-mayor’s treatment, her lawyer, Joshua Gruenberg, said Friday. Filner resigned from office on Aug. 30, 2013.


Gruenberg said his client was one of three Jane Does mentioned in a criminal case against Filner. The former mayor pleaded guilty to a felony and two misdemeanors in October and served three months of house arrest.

The lawsuit also names the city of San Diego as a defendant for its failure to prevent harassment. The City Attorney's Office said it was aware of the claim but declined further comment.

Santos-Hunter does not specify the amount in damages she's seeking but previously sought $1.5 million in a claim against the city.

She is the third city employee to file a civil suit against the former mayor. The city reached a $250,000 settlement with Filner's former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, in December.

A suit filed by Stacy McKenzie, a district manager for the city's Parks and Recreation Department, is still pending. McKenzie claims Filner groped her at an event at a city park and is seeking $500,000 in damages.


In a deposition Wednesday, Filner said he doesn't remember that alleged incident.

Corrected: March 2, 2024 at 6:24 PM PST
City News Service contributed to this story.
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