A jury dismissed most claims against former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner in a sex harassment lawsuit Wednesday, but did say the woman accusing Filner was subject to unwanted contact because she was a woman.
It took the jury only a few hours to come back with a verdict Wednesday following five days of testimony regarding allegations made by a City of San Diego employee that she was inappropriately touched by the former mayor at a city event.
Stacy McKenzie, a manager for the City Parks and Recreation department, claimed that Filner grabbed her from behind at an April 2013 parks event and touched her inappropriately.
During deliberations, jurors considered 20 questions with subparts that involve three areas: sexual battery, harassment and damages.
In civil trials, a jury finds for or against the defendant based on a preponderance of evidence, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt as in jury trials. In announcing their verdict, the jury dismissed most claims against Filner. Further, jurors did not signal any damages awarded to the plaintiff.
McKenzie told NBC 7 San Diego she was proud of the case.
"I think we put folks in the city on notice that we’re not just stand by and take this kind of behavior," she said. "It turned out the way it turned out, but I’m still proud we brought it forward. I think we made a stand and I think we made our statement."
McKenzie's attorney Dan Gilleon said he was disappointed in the jury's decision.
“This case was not about money,” he said. Gilleon previously argued that a fair compensation for his client would be $150,000 for total pain and suffering.
The jury got hung up on a technicality, he said: That the act happened at a park and not in a work environment.
"I just don’t think that the law allows a boss to harass somebody on their day off at the park," Gilleon said. "I think the law is the opposite of that."
Both Filner and the City of San Diego were accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. Only Filner was accused of sexual battery. Under the law, the plaintiff had to prove that Filner intended to cause a harmful or offensive contact with her buttocks or breast. Jurors dismissed this claim.
Only the City of San Diego was accused of failure to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, and jurors dismissed this claim.
Assistant City Attorney George Schaefer argued jurors saw evidence of emails and other written jokes made by McKenzie after the April 2013 incident.
Schaefer recalled testimony from one witness who said McKenzie characterized Filner's behavior as creepy but did not consider it sexual harassment.
McKenzie testified she suffered anxiety and depression following the parks event.