San Diego Mayor Bob Filner admitted Thursday “that I need help” in response to several sexual harassment complaints against him. Despite calls for his resignaton, Filner did not say he would resign. He apologized for his treatment of women and vowed to change his behavior. “I’m clearly doing something wrong,” he said.
Some longtime backers are urging Filner to step down. Among them is former city councilwoman Donna Frye, a Democrat, who has worked recently in the mayor’s office. She said Thursday that after hearing allegations directly from several women, “I could not not act.” She sent Filner a letter Tuesday asking him to step down.
In a statement Thursday, Filner acknowledged Frye’s request and implicitly admitted there was merit to her concerns.
“I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them,” he said. “It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong.”
None of Filner’s sexual harassment victims have come forward publicly to detail their allegations against Filner. No lawsuits have been filed against him for sexual harassment or otherwise.
A local employment law and civil rights lawyer told reporters that he and Frye know of “very specific acts from individuals who have worked for the mayor that they have been subjected to behavior that does not meet our community standards.” Without the victims coming forward, he and others felt compelled to speak out for them. It is reported that there are multiple other victims.
Amid the scandal, the mayor announced Thursday that he’s “begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach” and that he and his staff will have sexual harassment training. Filner also promised that he’d personally reach out and apologize to those who now or have in the past worked in his office.
“Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one that can make these changes,” he said.
At bottom, yet another government leader has continued in a long line of gender bias and inappropriate conduct towards women, including sexual harassment. Think Elliot Spitzer and Andrew Weiner, both of whom are planning to run for the top two political offices is New York. Sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct are apparently not enough to derail anyone’s political ambitions.