San Diego Mayor to Step Down amid Harassment Allegations
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner announced that he will step down from office next week, bowing to enormous pressure after at least 17 women came forward with allegations of sexual harassment that eroded his public support just nine months into his term.
A visibly emotional Filner addressed the San Diego City Council after members emerged from a closed meeting, where they voted 7-0 to accept a proposed settlement that requires him to resign by Aug. 30.
During the meeting, Filner apologized to his accusers but insisted he was innocent of the harassment charges, Aljazeera reported.
"Certainly, it was never my intention to be a mayor who went out like this," Filner said, before making an apparent reference to his 1960s work with civil rights group the Freedom Riders.
"You know I started my political career facing lynch mobs, and I think we have just faced one here in San Diego," Filner said. "And you're going to have to deal with that. In a lynch mob mentality, rumors become allegations, allegations become facts, facts become evidence of sexual harassment which have led to demands for my resignation and recall."
Nonetheless, he added, “The city should not have to go through this, and my own personal failures were responsible, and I apologize to the city.”
The California attorney general’s office has opened a criminal investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Filner, 70, served 20 years in Congress before he was elected mayor of California’s second-largest city.
Filner's former press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson, sued Filner in July, accusing him of sexually harassing her.
Since then, 17 more women have come forward to say he forcibly groped them, made lewd comments or even placed them in headlocks. One the women is a great-grandmother; another is a retired Navy admiral.
Some of Filner's closest political allies and all nine members of the city council called on him to quit.
On Friday, just before the Council vote, the Democratic National Committee took the extraordinary step of passing a resolution demanding Filner leave.