SAN DIEGO – Not long after embattled Mayor Bob Filner repeated his statement today that he would not resign over sexual harassment allegations, a prominent trio of his former supporters upped the ante in the court of public opinion.
"Bob Filner is tragically unsafe for any woman to approach," former San Diego City Councilmember Donna Frye said, explaining why she believes the mayor is unfit to serve as the city’s top leader.
Frye detailed several examples of sexual harassment that she had heard about, citing two accusers she had spoken with. Frye said the women were subjected to groping, French kissing, breast-grabbing and other unwanted sexual advances.
Attorney Marco Gonzalez, who has been retained by at least one client who alleges sexual harassment by the 70-year-old mayor, said that a complaint will be filed with human resources. He also said lawsuits could be filed against the mayor and the City of San Diego for violating state law prohibiting sexual harassment.
Another attorney, Cory Briggs, accused the mayor’s behavior toward women as an “abuse of power” and called the incidents “horrific.” One women, who is 72, detailed her sexual harassment allegations in a sworn affidavit, according to Briggs, who is her attorney.
"She was horrified and humiliated by the experience," Briggs said. "The man she thought would champion her cause betrayed her trust."
When a reporter asked why the women have not come forth publicly to accuse the mayor, Frye got very upset by the line of questioning and pointed to the negative reaction to the allegations by some people who commented on a recent story about the scandal in the San Diego Reader. She said the problem is not with the women’s anonymity. “Bob Filner is the problem,” Frye said, her voice forceful and angry.
In another development, Filner’s ex-fiancee Bronwyn Ingram went public with her reasons for ending her relationship with Filner. Ingram said Filner was being verbally abusive towards her in public settings and that she caught him sending sexually explicit text messages to other women, according to her statement:
"Bob's behavior continued to become more aggressive, standard decorum seemed to disappear. Bob recently began texting other women sexually explicit messages and setting up dates while in my presence and within my line of vision.
"I have witnessed a severe deterioration in Bob's ability to engage with anyone in a civil manner, myself included. During our trip to Paris, he screamed at me in public without provocation, among other inappropriate and disrespectful acts."
Ingram joins a long list of former Filner supporters who have called for the mayor to resign. The list includes Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, Council President Todd Gloria and new Assemblymember Lora Gonzalez, the former local labor leader who almost single-handedly helped to get Filner elected as mayor. Lora and Marco Gonzalez are siblings.
Earlier this morning, Filner issued the following statement:
"I'm not going to resign, and here's why. As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions. But as a citizen of this country, I also expect - and am entitled to - due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me.”
Full video from today’s news conference
Filner withdrew from his scheduled appearance to ride in a convertible during the San Diego Pride parade on Saturday, but showed up Sunday at the Pride festival. Filner is seen in the following NBC 7 video walking with LGBT Weekly icon Nicole Murray Ramirez, who was carrying a pink umbrella. Ramirez is a city human-rights commissioner.
View more videos at: http://nbcsandiego.com.