San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said he’ll seek therapy amid allegations he sexually harassed women, including a retired Navy rear admiral, a state university dean and his spokeswoman.
The 70-year-old Filner, elected to 10 terms in Congress, took office in December as the first Democrat in 20 years to lead America’s eighth-largest city. The mayor, who has been under fire since the accusations became public July 11, said he’ll enter a behavioral counseling clinic Aug. 5 for two weeks.
“My failure to respect women, and the intimidating contact is inexcusable,” Filner said in a news briefing at city hall. “I apologize to the people of San Diego. And most of all, I apologize to the women that I have offended.”
The San Diego scandal unfolded as another prominent Democrat, disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, resisted calls to quit his campaign for mayor of New York, following revelations that he sent lewd messages to women over the Internet even after resigning from House of Representatives over similar behavior.
Filner said he’ll continue to run the city of 1.3 million people, receiving daily briefings from his staff, while at the clinic full-time. The city charter has no provision for the mayor to hand over his duties to someone else unless the office is vacated. In that case, the city council is responsible until a special election.
On July 11, three former Filner supporters, including ex-Councilwoman Donna Frye, who worked for the mayor earlier this year, held a news briefing to call for his resignation, citing sexual harassment without giving details. Filner responded with a public apology.
“I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to respect the women who work for me and with me,” he said.
On July 22, the mayor’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, 57, filed suit asserting that the divorced Filner had held her in a headlock and suggested that she not wear panties to work. Filner denied wrongdoing.
Yesterday, four more accusers came forward in a KPBS-TV interview, telling the San Diego station they had received unwanted sexual advances.
One of those women was Veronica Froman, a former admiral who served as the city’s chief operating officer under Filner’s predecessor, Mayor Jerry Sanders. Another was Joyce Gattas, the dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts at San Diego State University.