Four more prominent San Diego women came forward Thursday evening accusing embattled Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment.
The latest accusers – who include a retired Navy rear-admiral, a San Diego State University dean, the head of the Port Tenants Association and a businesswoman – told KPBS they have all been on the opposite end of unwanted sexual advances made by Filner over the years.
Special Section: Mayor Under Fire
The alleged harassment, the women said, included sexual advances, inappropriate touching and comments made towards them by the mayor.
Sharon Bernie-Cloward, president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, said Filner approached her at an event in National City in 2010 when he was still a congressman. There, Filner allegedly told her she was beautiful and said he wanted to date her after his re-election.
Bernie-Cloward said she had a second unpleasant run-in with Filner at another event in San Diego in 2012. She told KPBS that Filner approached her after the event and gave her a hug.
“And then he touched me, actually groped me on my backside inappropriately,” Bernie-Cloward told KPBS.
She said the incident left her “startled and fearful.”
A second accuser, San Diego businesswoman Patti Roscoe, claimed Filner has put her in the now-infamous “Filner Headlock” several times. After putting his arm around her neck, Roscoe said Filner would try to kiss her.
Roscoe’s most recent run-in with the mayor happened just a few months ago.
“I turned and he just slobbered down my chin,” Roscoe told KPBS. "And I was so violated and so offended. It’s just such a terrible invasion.”
Meanwhile, retired Navy rear-admiral Veronica "Ronne" Froman recalled an encounter at Filner’s congressional office a couple of years ago in which he allegedly blocked the doorway after everyone except for her had left the room.
According to Froman, he got very close to her, ran his finger up her cheek and asked if she was in a relationship with anyone. He then made some jokes, and she left his office completely rattled.
“I got in the car with the two guys I was working with and I told them never to leave me alone in a room with Bob Filner again,” she told KPBS.
Finally, Joyce Gattas, dean of SDSU's College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, said she’s had various interactions with Filner in which he held her too tight, kissed her cheek or touched her knee.
Gattas also claimed she’s seen Filner make sexual comments to others.
Bernie-Cloward, Roscoe, Froman and Gattas are the latest women to come forward with sexual allegations against Mayor Filner this week.
On Monday, Filner’s former communications chief, Irene McCormack Jackson, went public with accusations against the mayor, followed by Laura Fink on Tuesday and Morgan Rose on Wednesday.
The running tally of victims accusing Filner of sexual harassment is now at seven, and is expected to continue rising. The sheriff's department has established a special hotline where victims can report sexual harassment allegations concerning the mayor.
Filner, for his part, has not addressed the specific allegations brought to light this week.
After he was first accused by former allies, including Donna Frye, of sexually harassing employees earlier this month, Filner released a pre-recorded statement admitting he “needs help.”
However, he has maintained his innocence and demanded due process.
San Diego Democratic leaders held a meeting Thursday night to discuss these most recent allegations against Filner and whether or not the mayor should resign.
After a 34 to 6 vote, the Democratic Party decided they will ask Filner to step down.
At a similar meeting last week, local Democrats were split on the issue and ultimately decided they wouldn't ask Filner to resign. On Thursday night, that all changed.
Meanwhile, Filner’s accusers and numerous former allies believe the mayor should resign, arguing that, at this point, he is simply unfit to run the City of San Diego.