July 25, 2013 / 12:25 AM / 6 years ago

Third woman accuses San Diego mayor of unwanted advances

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - A third woman came forward on Wednesday to accuse embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of making unwelcome sexual advances, telling a local television station that he tried to kiss her at a restaurant in 2009.

School psychologist Morgan Rose’s interview with KPBS-TV came the same day the mayor appointed a woman as his new chief of staff and a state agency said it would investigate an employment complaint against Filner.

A former aide filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Filner earlier this week and Democrats in the city have urged the 70-year-old politician to resign.

Rose told KPBS she met with Filner in 2009, when he was a California congressman, to promote the work of America’s Angel Campaign, a nonprofit she founded to help children.

Rose told the station Filner had asked a private meeting at a San Diego-area restaurant and that after they sat down together he said, “Your eyes have bewitched me.”

“And then the next thing I knew, he got up from across the booth, he came over and sat next to me, pinning me into my side of the booth and wanted to kiss me,” Rose told KPBS. “And I started to ask him, ‘What would your wife say if she was sitting here?’ And he just laughed this really odd laugh, as if that was the craziest thing he had ever heard.”

Rose added that Filner “tried to move my face towards his to kiss me on the mouth.”

A Filner spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment. The former 10-term congressman, who was elected mayor of California’s second-largest city last year, has faced mounting pressure to resign despite his vows to stay in office.

Jack Brandais, spokesman for the San Diego Unified School District, confirmed that Rose works for the district as a psychologist but said he could not arrange an interview with Rose. There was no response to an email sent to Rose’s charity, America’s Angel Campaign, on Wednesday seeking comment.

On Tuesday, KPBS aired an interview with former Filner aide Laura Fink, who said that he patted her on the behind at a public event in 2005 when she was employed by the then-congressman.


An employment complaint against Filner in his role as San Diego mayor has been filed with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the agency confirmed in a statement on Wednesday.

The statement said DFEH could not provide more information about the complaint which it called “open and being investigated.”

A separate complaint requesting a right to sue had also been filed, but that is not being investigated by DFEH because the complainant - whose name was not released - chose to pursue a lawsuit, the agency said.

In a sexual harassment lawsuit filed on Monday, Irene McCormack Jackson, who served as Filner’s press secretary after he was elected mayor, accused Filner of asking her to “get naked.”

She also accused him of once placing her in a virtual “head lock” - drawing her close with an arm gripped around her neck - while he suggested they get married.

McCormack Jackson was the first woman to publicly step forward to accuse Filner of inappropriate advances.

Calls for his resignation began on July 11, when former San Diego City Councilwoman and fellow Democrat Donna Frye joined two attorneys in leveling allegations that at least one woman, whom they did not name, had accused the mayor of harassing her.

Filner responded by acknowledging that he had “failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.”

In recent days, a number of prominent local Democrats have publicly urged Filner to quit, including San Diego-area U.S. Representatives Susan Davis and Scott Peters and San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria.

Amid the scandal, Filner has pledged to continue governing and appointing new staff.

Filner announced on Wednesday that he had appointed his legal adviser, Lee Burdick, to be his chief of staff. She replaces Vince Hall, who announced his resignation on Twitter a day after the first accusations of sexual harassment were made against Filner by Frye.

Burdick said in a statement she was taking the job “fully aware of the allegations and concerns confronting the mayor and the city” and that she decided to “step forward to help the city through these challenging times.”

San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who has clashed with Filner in the past, told reporters on Monday that after the allegations arose against the mayor the city took certain precautions, but did not “acknowledge culpability.”

“Arising out of that, and at my request, the mayor is not permitted to meet with women alone in city facilities,” he said. “That was agreed to with his (personal) lawyer and it is enforced by the chief of staff, the deputy chief of staff. The chief of police is also aware of that and has made some commitments.”

Additional reporting by Laila Kearney in San Francisco; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Eric Walsh

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