SAN DIEGO (CBS/AP) — The mayor of San Diego faced public calls to resign Thursday over allegations of sexual harassment made by three of his former supporters.
KNX 1070’s Tom Reopelle reports Mayor Bob Filner was nowhere to be found at City Hall in the wake of the accusations.
Former City Councilwoman Donna Frye and local attorneys Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez offered few details, but said the allegations involve individuals who work for the mayor.
“They have been subjected to behavior that does not meet our community standards,” Gonzalez said.
No other specific details were released.
Frye acknowledged the difficulty of going public with the accusations.
“These women need to know that they are not alone,” she said. “We do not take this lightly. This is one of the decisions that is the hardest to ever make.”
Filner was elected to a four-year term in November as San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years after 10 terms in Congress.
The politician released a statement apologizing to the people of San Diego Thursday but said he had no immediate plans to resign.
“I begin today by apologizing to you. I have diminished the office to which you elected me.
“The charges made at today’s news conference are serious. When a friend like Donna Frye is compelled to call for my resignation, I’m clearly doing something wrong. I have reached into my heart and soul and realized I must and will change my behavior,” he said.
“As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.
“It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong.
“I am also humbled to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach. In addition, my staff and I will participate in sexual harassment training provided by the city. Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one that can make these changes.
“If my behavior doesn’t change, I cannot succeed in leading our city,” Filner continued.
“In the next few days, I will be reaching out to those who now work in the Mayor’s Office or have previously worked for me – both men and women – to personally apologize for my behavior.
“I will also be announcing fundamental changes within the Mayor’s Office designed to promote a new spirit of cooperation, respect and effectiveness.
“You have every right to be disappointed in me. I only ask that you give me an opportunity to prove I am capable of change, so that the vision I have for our city’s future can be realized. Thank you.”
Frye was Filner’s director of open government for several months until resigning for a position at Californians Aware, a group that advocates for open government. KPBS, San Diego radio and television station, said she made clear in an interview that she was not a victim.
Frye lost a write-in campaign for mayor in 2004 only because several thousand voters who wrote her name on the ballot failed to darken the adjoining ovals. If those ballots were counted, she would have unseated Republican Dick Murphy, who later resigned amid a scandal over city finances.
San Diego County Democratic Party Chair Francine Busby said she wanted more details before weighing in on the allegations against Filner.
“Key questions remain to be answered both by Mayor Filner and those leveling these charges,” she said.
Scott Peters, a Democratic congressman, also said he wanted more specifics.
“If these accusations are proven true, Mayor Filner will face real, tough and serious consequences,” he said.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)