San Diego Mayor enters therapy amid sexual harassment allegations

SAN DIEGO Mon Aug 5, 2013 7:29pm EDT

San Diego mayor Bob Filner speaks at a news conference in San Diego, California July 26, 2013. REUTERS/Fred Greaves

San Diego mayor Bob Filner speaks at a news conference in San Diego, California July 26, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Greaves

Related Topics

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - San Diego's mayor, facing mounting pressure to resign over sexual harassment allegations from nearly a dozen women, entered an intensive therapy program on Monday, a spokeswoman said.

As Mayor Bob Filner, a Democrat, prepared over the weekend to begin his treatment, a tenth woman came forward to accuse him of inappropriate behavior, saying the 70-year-old mayor had asked her out during a political event in June.

"He took me by the hand and said, 'You are so beautiful I cannot take my eyes off of you," Renee Estill-Sombright told a Fox News station. "Are you married?"

Filner, who took the helm of California's second-largest city last year, has resisted calls to resign after a sexual harassment lawsuit was filed against him last month by his former press secretary. The secretary accused him of telling her she would work better without panties.

Since then, a string of other women have come forward to publicly accuse Filner of making unwanted sexual advances. Both fellow Democrats and rival Republicans have joined forces in a signature drive seeking a recall election to unseat him.

"The behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong," Filner said when he announced his plan to enter treatment late last month. "My failure to respect women and the intimidating conduct I engaged in at times is inexcusable."

On Monday, spokeswoman Lena Lewis confirmed that Filner had entered a counseling program but did not say where it was located or whether Filner was staying there overnight. Filner had said he would take two weeks off for the counseling program, but promised to stay involved in running the city during that time.

At City Hall on Monday the mayor's office was quiet.

A prominent lawyer for Filner's former press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson, who filed the lawsuit against him, dismissed Filner's "decision to seek therapy as a ploy to stay in power and to try to gain sympathy.

"It is ridiculous to think that he needs therapy in order to understand that women deserve respect and should not be treated like pieces of meat," lawyer Gloria Allred said.

(Additional reporting and writing by Sharon Bernstein, Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
gregbrew56 wrote:
Let’s see, 57 years of denigrating women (I’ll give him his prepubescent years), all fixed in 14 days. Too funny.

He not only has utter contempt for women, but also the electorate!

Aug 05, 2013 8:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
BuffaloGirl wrote:
Mayor Bob

It’s gonna take more than 2 weeks to solve your problems. There are deeper issues here than you’ve dared to admit.

Aug 06, 2013 6:50am EDT  --  Report as abuse
AZreb wrote:
Therapy? No – each and every victim of this predator should sue and keep his actions in front of the public in court cases.

Aug 06, 2013 8:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus