(SAN DIEGO) — Mayor Bob Filner indicated Friday that he is not resigning, but said he will attend a two-week intensive behavioral counseling clinic after seven women publicly came forward to allege he sexually harassed them.
Calling his actions towards women “inexcusable,” Filner, 70, apologized to the residents of San Diego and the women he offended.
“I must become a better person,” Filner said. “I must take responsibility so it doesn’t happen again.”
Filner told reporters that he will be at the clinic full time, though he will receive morning and evening briefings on city business. After completing the counseling, he plans to return to full-time mayoral duties on Aug. 19
Local and national Democrats have called on Filner, a Democrat, to resign amid the accusations, which have led to a sexual harassment lawsuit.
The San Diego County Democratic Party voted 34-6 for Filner to step down from office on July 22.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s office had set up a hotline for women to come forward with complaints of harassment against Filner. The sheriff’s office did not return calls for comment about the number of complaints received.
A Facebook group, “Recall Bob Finer,” had more than 6,200 likes as of Friday afternoon. Twitter was filled with users expressing outrage over his actions and calling for his resignation as well.
The allegations of sexual harassment against Filner have been brewing since mid-July, when a former member of his administration, Donna Frye, told a news conference there were serious accusations that Filner mistreated women.
Two weeks later, on July 22, Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner’s former communications director, filed a lawsuit against him alleging sexual harassment. Jackson said in a statement that Filner had kept her in “the Filner headlock,” in which she was “moved around as a rag doll while he whispered sexual comments in my ear.” She said Filner also told her she should work without her underwear and that he wanted to see her naked.
Jackson is currently the only woman to file suit, said her lawyer Gloria Allred. But six other women quickly followed McCormack’s lead in publicizing their experiences with the mayor.
Allred told ABC News that Jackson was currently her only client, but that her firm had spoken with some of the women who had come forward, as well as women who had not come forward. She would not specify which women she had spoken with.
The mayor was contrite when the initial allegations emerged. He released both a written and an oral statement, the latter of which he posted on YouTube, admitting that he had intimidated women and claiming he needed to work on his behavior.
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Dylan Byers, CNN
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN