San Diego mayor appears likely to resign over sexual harassment suit

August 22, 2013

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner will resign as part of a deal reached with municipal officials over a sexual harassment lawsuit brought against him and the city by a former aide, the Los Angeles Times and other media reported Thursday.

But a high-profile attorney for the plaintiff in the case said that her client was not a party to the deal and that she opposed reported terms of a settlement calling for Filner to leave office in exchange for city assistance with his legal expenses.

“It is not appropriate for the City of San Diego to provide a gift of public funds to a sexual harasser to help him fight the victim of the lawsuit we filed,” attorney Gloria Allred said at a news conference in Los Angeles. Allred is representing Irene McCormack Jackson, the mayor’s former press secretary.

“While we strongly support the mayor’s resignation, we would hope that whatever resolution has been reached between the city and the mayor does not include the payment of any of the mayor’s legal fees,” she said.

Amid a hail of sexual harassment allegations, pressure has been building on Filner to resign as mayor of California’s second-largest city. For weeks, he had resisted calls to step aside while saying he would begin behavioral counseling.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) will reportedly resign as part of a settlement of a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment. (The Washington Post)

The 70-year-old former member of the House of Representatives was elected in November as San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in two decades. If he resigns, a special election for a successor would be held within 90 days.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith announced a deal late Wednesday but said the terms were being kept under wraps until after a presentation to the City Council on Friday during a closed session.

The proposed settlement capped three days of talks that included the city, Filner’s attorneys and Allred.

The Los Angeles Times, citing unnamed sources familiar with the talks, reported on Thursday that Filner would step down as part of the settlement in return for the city paying some, if not all, of his share of any damages awarded in the suit. The local NBC television affiliate carried a similar report.

The Times reported that the mayor was seen Wednesday night loading boxes into a car after bidding farewell to his staff and cleaning out his office.

Since Jackson filed her suit last month, 17 more women have accused Filner of groping, forced kisses or other unwanted advances.

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