San Diego Mayor Will Resign Over Harassment, Reports Say
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner will resign after less than nine months in office as part of a settlement of sexual-harassment claims made by his former spokeswoman, two television stations reported.
The deal with Filner, 70, the first Democrat to lead the eighth-largest U.S. city since 1992, will be presented to the City Council tomorrow, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith told reporters yesterday following a mediation session. Goldsmith didn’t say whether the deal required Filner to resign.
“Any rumors you hear about this proposal, you can deem to be untrue, because the people standing here are the ones who know about it,” said Goldsmith, who was accompanied by Filner’s lawyers and several city officials. “We will maintain the confidentiality of the mediation.”
Local television stations KNSD and KGTV reported that the settlement will require Filner to leave office once it’s approved. The stations cited several people they didn’t identify. Filner was seen in his office yesterday and was observed placing packing boxes in a vehicle driven by a member of his security detail, the Los Angeles Times said.
Filner returned to work at city hall yesterday, James L. Payne, one of his lawyers, said today in a statement. Payne said the mayor and the city reached a “tentative agreement” after three days of mediation before Lawrence Irving, a retired judge. He said he couldn’t make statements about the confidential deal.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer for Irene McCormack Jackson, the former Filner communications director who sued the mayor and the city, said the agreement “may contain terms which we and the taxpayers would find abhorrent” in a news briefing today.
“We have no settlement of our lawsuit at this time,” Allred told reporters in her Los Angeles office, when asked if she would accept a deal that involved taxpayer money being paid to her client on Filner’s behalf. “We did not approve any so-called deal between those two defendants.”
McCormack Jackson sued July 22, claiming Filner asked her to come to work without wearing underwear and held her in a headlock. Allred said Filner’s resignation wouldn’t affect the status of the lawsuit.
“Justice requires the mayor to resign,” she said. If the council provides funds to pay a settlement with her client, she said, “the city is not siding with the victim, the city is siding with the wrongdoer -- the sexual harasser.”
She said the council should reject the agreement if it calls for the city to pay any of Filner’s legal bills.
“His parting gift should be ’good riddance’ instead of a handout,” Allred said.
Filner has resisted pressure to step down after more than a dozen women, including a retired rear admiral, a university dean and a great-grandmother, made accusations that included groping, headlocks and inappropriate comments. He took a two-week hiatus to receive counseling this month.
The entire City Council and California’s Democratic U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have called for Filner to quit. The Democratic National Committee may vote this week on a resolution demanding his resignation. Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a U.S. representative from Florida, told him last month he should resign.
The mayor has apologized for offending women, though he said that his behavior fell short of sexual harassment.
Filner was confronted with the allegations July 11, when three former supporters met with reporters to say the mayor had made unwanted advances and inappropriate comments to women. By Aug. 21, 18 women had stepped forward with similar claims.
A drive to force Filner to submit to a recall election began Aug. 18 and organizers say at least 10,000 petitions are being circulated among voters in the city of about 1.3 million residents. Recall backers need almost 102,000 voter signatures.
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