Ninth woman says San Diego mayor sexually harassed her

KSWB
Friday, August 2, 2013 - 11:33am

A ninth woman is accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment.

Emily Gilbert told CNN affiliate KSWB that she was hired to sing at a fundraising event shortly after Filner took office in December. The mayor grabbed her, slide his hand down her arm and groped her behind, she told the station.

"He grabbed me a little too tight, then proceeded to slide his hand down my arm and then did a little grab on my derriere," Gilbert said. "I didn't want to make a scene. There were kids around."

Gilbert's husband told KSWB that he was upset but felt powerless because Filner was the mayor.

CNN has made multiple efforts to contact Filner and his representatives on the latest allegations.

The 70-year-old, dogged for weeks by sexual harassment allegations, served five terms in Congress before being elected mayor in 2012.

In July, when the allegations first began, Filner acknowledged "I need help," and added, "I'm clearly doing something wrong."

"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," he said in a statement issued July 11.

But Filner has also said he believes he will be vindicated by "a full presentation of the facts" and he will not resign.

In late July, Filner said he planned to enter "a behavior counseling clinic" for two weeks of intensive therapy starting August 5. In a statement given at City Hall, he apologized "to the women I have offended."

"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," he said.

Before Gilbert, Filner's former spokeswoman, Irene McCormack Jackson, and seven other women accused Filner of sexual harassment. Jackson has filed a sexual harassment suit against Filner.

He asked the city to pay for his legal fees; the city council voted against that.

Jackson said Filner subjected her and other women to "crude and disgusting" comments and inappropriate touching. She said she resigned as Filner's communications director in June after deciding the mayor would not change his behavior.

None of the other women leveling claims of sexual harassment against Filner came forward until Jackson filed her suit in state court.

One of the women is nonprofit group founder who said she was lobbying Filner for her organization which, works with military and other families hurt by domestic violence. Morgan Rose met with Filner in 2009 at a Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery across the street from Filner's congressional office in Chula Vista, California, she told CNN.

Filner allegedly looked her up and down, stared into her eyes and said, "Your eyes have bewitched me," Rose said.

Filner allegedly then made a remark along the lines of, according to Rose's paraphrasing, "You'll have to excuse me for what's about to happen. It's your fault."

Filner then moved to her side of the booth, sat beside her, pinned her to the wall, and put his arm around her, Rose alleged.

Rose avoided the advances, and Filner was suddenly interrupted by his ringing cell phone, Rose said.

Filner got up from the booth, gathered his materials and left the restaurant, Rose said.

Rose spoke of the incident to her closest friends and didn't pursue the matter because she feared her nonprofit might somehow suffer, she told CNN.

But when Rose said that when she heard of similar accusations against Filner in recent weeks, she called a victim's hotline at the sheriff's department and spoke with a captain.

Another woman, political consultant Laura Fink, has accused the mayor of patting what she described as her "posterior" at a fundraising event in 2005. At the time, Fink was working as the deputy manager of Filner's congressional campaign. Fink told CNN that she thinks Filner should resign.

Sharon Bernie-Cloward, president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, claims that when Filner was running for mayor in 2012, he approached her at a political event, according to San Diego's public television station.

"He touched me, actually groped me on my backside inappropriately," Bernie-Cloward told KPBS. "I was left there startled and fearful. In fact, I actually had someone walk me to my car that night."

Patti Roscoe, a prominent businesswoman in San Diego's tourism and hospitality industry, told KPBS that on numerous occasions, Filner "put in me what I guess now is the famous headlock."

"I felt fearful, even as well as I knew him, because it was an invasion into my space," Roscoe told the station. "And he would come in and try to kiss me on the lips and I'd have to squirm to get away. And just as recently as a few months ago this happened. I turned and he just slobbered down my chin.

"And I was so violated and so offended. It's just such a terrible invasion."

Veronica "Ronne" Froman, a retired Navy rear admiral and San Diego's former chief operating officer, told KPBS said that she and Filner, then a congressman, met a few years ago at his office after everyone had left.

"He stopped me and he got very close to me. And he ran his finger up my cheek like this and he whispered to me, 'Do you have a man in your life?' " Froman said. "I jumped back. I was very, very startled. And I said, 'Yes, I have a man in my life.'

"And he said, 'who?' And I said, 'Linden Blue.' He says, 'Oh, of the Blues Brothers?' And he says, 'Maybe we can get together sometime and have lunch and he can support me for mayor.'

"I was really rattled. I got in the car with the two guys I was working with and I told them never to leave me alone in a room with Bob Filner again."

Joyce Gattas, a dean at San Diego State University, told KPBS that she had several "interactions" with Filner "where he's held me too tight, a kiss on the cheek which is inappropriate, hands on the knee that last too long."

The eighth woman to accuse the mayor was Lisa Curtin, who is director of government and military education at San Diego City College, according to KPBS. She said that he grabbed her hand, fingered her wedding ring and asked if it was real. She also said he tried to kiss her; she moved her head and she felt his tongue on her cheek.
 

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