Inappropriate behavior by San Diego Mayor Bob Filner ranged from isolating and propositioning constituents in his office or at official functions to telling an employee she would do a better job “if you kiss me” or if she worked without “panties” his detractors alleged Monday.
Mayor Filner has addressed previous allegations by admitting he needs help, vowing to change his behavior and refusing to resign office.
Former City Councilmember Donna Frye along with attorneys Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs outlined the evidence they point to for calling for Mayor Filner to resign and claimed they’re going to file a claim of sexual harassment with the city.
At a news conference downtown, Frye relayed the stories from two constituents describing unwanted sexual advancement. One woman described what happened after a meeting with the mayor, claiming, “Immediately after asking if he could kiss me, Mayor Filner grabbed me and kissed me” according to Frye.
The second constituent claimed that after meeting Mayor Filner for a breakfast meeting to discuss issues, the mayor suddenly grabbed her and kissed her on the sidewalk. "Jamming his tongue down her throat,” Frye alleged.
The constituent went on to allege that Filner “quickly had his hand on the inside of her bra,” Frye claimed.
Frye said the woman felt in order to be heard by the mayor she would have to accept the unwanted sexual advances.
“Bob Filner is tragically unsafe for any woman to approach,” Frye said.
“This behavior is not normal. Not their fault. They are not to blame. Bob Filner is to blame. And he needs to resign,” Frye screamed.
The mayor released a statement Monday saying he refused to resign and demanding his right of due process.
Frye and Gonzalez described a pattern of behavior in which Mayor Filner asks a woman about a spouse or boyfriend, isolates the woman by dismissing staff or pulling her away from a crowd and then requesting dinner, making unwanted sexual comments or physically imposing himself upon them.
Gonzalez, whose client has worked for the mayor's office for six months, described a behavior co-workers have dubbed "The Filner Dance."
"The Filner Dance is when a woman, faced with the mayor close to her face, not wanting to be kissed tries to evade," he alleged.
Gonzalez also described a moment when his client was allegedly told by Filner: “I’d do a better job if you kiss me.”
"There is no circumstance where it would be appropriate for the mayor to say to a woman in the elevator that they would do a better a job…if they worked without their panties on," Gonzalez alleged.
About a dozen Filner supporters holding signs interrupted the news conference several times asking for due process and demanding a name.
After Frye, Briggs and Gonzalez wrapped up, Jane Reldan, M.D. spoke briefly in defense of the mayor.
“We are just hearing allegations and this is not due process,” she said. “Every American citizen, including mayor Filner is allowed to face his accusers and defend himself in court and that’s all I’m saying that there’s no provision in the judicial system in America to be judged and executed on the spot by the press in a public poll.”
When questioned, Reldan said Filner should be allowed to defend himself like anyone else.
Filner appeared Sunday at the 2013 San Diego LGBT Pride celebration, smiling and shaking hands.
“Everybody's saying they support me,” Filner told NBC 7. “They're saying you've been great on our issues we need you to stay.”
Frye, who called the scandal a "horrible civic nightmare" said that knowing what they know now, they cannot allow Filner to remain in office.
“We will all fail the women of our city if we ask them to continue to meet with this man. To seek the leadership of one who will continue to harass and grope, and try and stick their tongue down their throats, grab their breasts,” Frye said.
When asked why the group hasn’t taken these serious accusations to the police or the district attorney, Gonzalez said, the goal was “to not have to go there.”
“When the mayor issued his statement on Friday, after admitting to guilt, and he then claimed innocence, he wrote the next chapter and this is it, and I will tell you right here standing before you, this is part of the next chapter. Regardless of what the mayor does from here on out, short of resigning, we will do what we need to do, whether it is criminal, civil or administrative to ensure this gets resolved,” he said.
Filner has lost the support of several prominent members of the Democratic Party who have called for his resignation.
The City Attorney’s office said Friday that no formal claims have been filed against the mayor or the city.