The Washington Post

Bob Filner will enter ‘behavior counseling clinic,’ will not resign

Apologizing for "intimidating conduct," embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) on Friday said he plans to enter a "behavior counseling clinic" for two weeks of therapy beginning Aug. 5. But he vowed to remain in office, even as he faced a flurry of calls to step aside from top Democrats, amid allegations he sexually harassed multiple women.

Filner said he plans to "undergo two weeks of intensive therapy to begin the process of addressing my behavior." He said the treatment will be "the first step" in a longer process "that will involve ongoing regular counseling."

"I must become a better person," Filner said.

Filner apologized in general terms for inappropriate conduct toward women without acknowledging any specific behavior. "I apologize to the women I have offended," he said.

He said the "behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong. My failure to respect women and the intimidating conduct I engaged in at times is inexcusable."

The brief press conference was quickly halted temporarily by what appeared to be audio troubles. Filner restarted his remarks minutes later, but fielded no questions.

The mayor made clear he intends to return to office on Aug. 19. He said that while he will be at the clinic full time, he will receive briefings twice daily on "city activities."

"So when I return on Aug. 19, my focus will be on making sure that I am doing right by the city, in terms of being the best mayor I can be, and the best person I must be."

Seven women have accused Filner of sexual misconduct, one of whom has filed a lawsuit. The mayor faces mounting calls to resign from within his own party.  Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz earlier Friday called for Filner to step aside. The San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee has also asked for Filner to leave office.

Since the allegations first surfaced publicly earlier this month, Filner has appeared consistently resolute in his desire to stay in office, even as he has been abandoned by the bulk of his party.

San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Francine Busby said Filner's decision to undergo therapy is not enough, but agreed that he needs the help.

"It doesn't erase what he's done. It doesn't erase the charges against him or the legal liability, but the ball's in his court, and he definitely needs to get this help," Busby told CNN, just after Filner delivered his remarks.

Elected mayor in 2012, Filner served in the U.S. House for nearly two decades before that.

Updated at 3:42 p.m.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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