Sex harassment settlement calls for San Diego mayor's ouster: reports
SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner will resign from office as part of the proposed settlement he reached with city officials in the sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him by a former aide, the Los Angeles Times and other media reported on Thursday.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith announced the deal late on Wednesday, capping three days of mediated negotiations between the city, Filner's lawyers, and attorneys for the plaintiff in the case, his former press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson.
However, Goldsmith said all parties to the accord had agreed to keep details of the proposed settlement strictly confidential until after it had been presented in closed session to the City Council on Friday.
Filner, under mounting pressure since last month to resign as mayor of California's second-largest city amid a hail of sexual harassment allegations, has kept a low profile in recent weeks after saying he would begin behavioral counseling.
Removal of Filner was widely reported to be on the table as part of a potential resolution in the settlement talks, which were mediated by a retired federal judge.
Goldsmith and other principals in the negotiations declined to say whether the settlement reached would lead to his exit.
When asked Wednesday night whether the deal would require Filner to resign, however, a source close to an individual involved in the talks told Reuters, "I think it's fair to say that looks like it's in the cards."
The mayor's lawyers issued a statement on Thursday saying that a "tentative agreement" had been reached in the mediation but declining to disclose the terms, adding only that the City Council was expected to vote on the deal on Friday and that a public announcement would be made afterward.
The Los Angeles Times, citing unnamed sources familiar with the negotiations, reported on Thursday that Filner would step down as part of the settlement.
In exchange for his resignation, the Times reported, the city would pay some, if not all, of Filner's share of any damages awarded in the lawsuit. The local NBC television affiliate carried a similar report.
The Times also reported that the 70-year-old Democrat and former U.S. congressman was seen Wednesday night loading boxes into a sport utility vehicle after bidding farewell to his staff and cleaning out his office. The SUV was parked outside City Hall and driven by a police officer who is part of his security detail, the Times said.
A 43-second video posted to YouTube on Wednesday night shows Filner climbing into the passenger seat of his SUV outside City Hall, with several cardboard boxes visible as a member of his security detail gets in the back seat. The video was attributed to a staffer for City Councilman Scott Sherman.
Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Jackson in her lawsuit, said she would comment on the settlement at a news conference she called for Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles. She said she would be accompanied by Filner's ex-fiancee, Bronwyn Ingram.
Since Jackson filed her suit last month, 17 more women have come forward to accuse Filner of groping or making other unwanted advances, the latest being Dianne York, 50, who starred in a short-lived reality show about cosmetic surgery on the Oxygen Channel cable network called "Addicted to Beauty."
Among the other women who have alleged misconduct by Filner were a retired U.S. Navy admiral, a college dean, a licensed vocational nurse, several business women and two military veterans who said he harassed them at a meeting for women who had been raped while serving in the armed forces.
Filner has so far resisted calls for his resignation. Nearly ever elected official in San Diego from both parties has urged him to step down, including all nine members of City Council.
The mayor has apologized for what he acknowledged was a pattern of disrespectful and intimidating behavior toward women.
On August 5, he entered behavior-modification therapy at an undisclosed clinic. His lawyers said he left the clinic after several days but was taking additional time off last week before planning to return to work this week.
(Reporting by Marty Graham in San Diego; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Steve Orlofsky)