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San Diego Mayor to Speak amid Calls to Resign

San Diego Mayor to Speak amid Calls to Resign

(AP) San Diego mayor to speak amid calls to resign
By ELLIOT SPAGAT
Associated Press
SAN DIEGO
San Diego’s beleaguered mayor has called a news conference amid growing calls that he resign over a sexual harassment scandal.

Democratic Mayor Bob Filner’s office offered no details, saying the mayor would make a statement on Friday at City Hall.

Members of the mayor’s own political party in San Diego joined a chorus of elected officials and city leaders calling for him to step down after seven women identified themselves as targets of his sexual advances.

On Friday, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz called Filner’s alleged behavior reprehensible and indefensible and urged him to step down.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s own political party called for the leader of the nation’s eighth-largest city to resign as four more women identified themselves as targets of his sexual advances, bringing to seven the number of women who have offered detailed accounts that include unwanted touching.

Filner’s latest accusers are a retired Navy rear admiral, a dean at San Diego State University, the head of the San Diego Ports Tenants Association and a businesswoman.

The San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee voted 34-6 Thursday night to urge the city’s first Democratic leader in 20 years to quit. The move came one week after the committee deadlocked 24-24 on the question, but that vote was before any woman had publicly identified herself as a target.

Political consultant Laura Fink, who alleges that Filner patted her buttocks at a 2005 fundraiser when she was deputy campaign manager for the then-congressman, welcomed the party’s position but expressed doubt that Filner would resign.

Filner, who is less than eight months into a four-year term, refused to discuss the allegations and urged patience Thursday, before the four women offered their stories to KPBS (http://bit.ly/13J9FNX).

Veronica “Ronne” Froman, the retired rear admiral and chief operating officer under Filner’s predecessor, said Filner once blocked a doorway after others left a meeting, ran his finger up her cheek and asked if she had a man in her life.

When she told him she did have a man, named Linden Blue, Filner allegedly replied, “Oh, of the Blues Brothers?”

Froman, who is known in San Diego as the “Navy Mayor” and has led the American Red Cross local chapter, said the incident happened “a couple years ago” at Filner’s congressional office.

Sharon Bernie-Cloward, president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, said the then-congressman told her at an event in 2010 that she was beautiful and he wanted to date her after his re-election. At another event last year during the mayoral campaign, she said Filner “groped me on my backside inappropriately.”

Patti Roscoe, a businesswoman in the tourism and hospitality industry who knew Filner before he was elected to Congress in 1992, said Filner placed her in a “headlock” numerous times and tried to kiss her on the lips.

Joyce Gattas, dean of San Diego State’s College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, said she had a series of “interactions with Bob where he’s held me too tight, a kiss on the cheek which is inappropriate, hands on the knee that last too long.”

Busby said she opened Thursday’s Democratic Party meeting, which was closed to news media, by naming Filner’s alleged targets.

A spokeswoman for Filner, Lena Lewis, didn’t respond to email and phone messages seeking comment on the latest allegations after they aired on KPBS.

Filner’s problems began two weeks ago when a former councilwoman and onetime Filner supporter called for the mayor to step down, saying she had credible evidence that he harassed women. Filner issued a video statement, apologizing for intimidating and “failing to fully respect” women. He called his behavior “inappropriate and wrong,” promised to change, and declared, “I need help.”

On Monday, the mayor’s communications director from January to June, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a lawsuit claiming that he asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.

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