"Numerous" Women Harassed by San Diego Mayor Filner: Former Friends, Allies

"There is no doubt in my mind that these allegations are true," said former City Councilmember Donna Frye

By R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Jul 11, 2013  |  Updated 7:39 PM EDT
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In an emotional statement, Donna Frye called the decision to write a letter to friend Bob Filner one of the hardest things she's had to do in her life.

In an emotional statement, Donna Frye called the decision to write a letter to friend Bob Filner one of the hardest things she's had to do in her life.

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Mayor Bob Filner Admits He Needs Help

Mayor Bob Filner's prepared video statement released Thursday, the same day three high-profile allies accused him of sexually harassing female employees.

"Numerous" Women Harassed by Mayor: Attorney

Attorney Marco Gonzalez said he has clients who have been sexually harassed by Mayor Bob Filner at a news conference Thursday.
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Three high-profile San Diegans described sexual harassment allegations involving “numerous” female employees of Mayor Bob Filner who were subjected to “unfortunate and reprehensible circumstances” but refused to reveal victim identities or details of the alleged behavior.

When asked directly to respond to calls for his resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner told NBC 7 News “there are no allegations to respond to.”

Read: Mayor Refuses to Address Whirlwind of Allegations

On Thursday at 10 a.m., former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye and lawyers Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez stood together and explained why they recently demanded that Filner resign.

When Frye was asked why she would publicly demand her longtime ally leave office just 7 months into his term, she described "credible evidence brought forward by women directly to me that had gone through it.”

“There is no doubt in my mind that what I am telling you and standing here talking about today. There is no doubt in my mind that these allegations are true,” Frye said.

When pressed for details on the alleged incidents including the number of women involved, Gonzalez refused saying only "numerous." He did implore that other women including people sitting in the office, the reporter pool and those who worked on the campaign that feel they too had been victims of the alleged behavior contact his office.

Gonzalez said he had met with the mayor but would not reveal the details of the conversation.

“There comes a tipping point. There comes a point where rumor becomes fact. There comes a point where speculation becomes reality,” Gonzalez said. “There comes a point where we can longer simply say that’s just a rumor. We reached that point.”

Once Filner's Open Government Director, Frye wrote a letter to Filner dated July 9, in which she quotes "credible evidence of more than one woman being sexually harassed by you...”

Frye goes on to demand that Filner "do the only honorable thing at this time, resign immediately."

At the news conference Thursday, Frye called the act of writing the letter difficult.

"I did not make this request lightly," she said. "It was one of the hardest decisions I have made."

After she spoke, Briggs put his arm around her in support.

All three allies said that Filner will be the one to "write the next chapter."

Mayor Filner's spokesperson Lena Lewis told NBC 7 no one in the Mayor's office has any comment or reaction to the news conference.

Lewis said she does not know if the mayor or anyone else in the office will have any comment later today.

After the event ended, Scott Lewis of NBC 7's news partner voiceofsandiego called the news conference “bizarre.”

“It was definitely a direct communication to the mayor. Almost a threat,” Lewis said. “If you don’t do the right thing, this is going to get a lot uglier.”

Employment attorney Phillip Kossy said that the next step for the women who may be involved would be to file a claim with the city that the City Attorney and City Council will act upon. If the claim has been denied, Kossy said, then those women can pursue a lawsuit.

Francine Busby with the Democratic Party of San Diego said it's too soon to demand a resignation especially since no formal harassment complaints have been filed against Filner.

“I think he has great potential to do more, so when things like this come up, it is disappointing,” Busby said.

Filner's former mayoral opponent Carl DeMaio couldn't resist the opportunity to address the issue. He said after his loss, he hoped Filner would be a good mayor but quote "Sadly, the evidence is mounting that Bob Filner is simply incapable of leading our city."

Security at the mayor's downtown apartment building said Filner left around 1 to 2 a.m. in the morning.

He was slated to be part of a panel discussing the impact of the military of San Diego's economy at 7 a.m. at the Midway Museum. San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox told NBC 7 that Filner was a no-show.

The last month has been tumultuous for Mayor Filner.

Read: Timeline of Mayor Filner's Controversy

On June 28, he was subjected to questions about Sunroad, his secret trip to Paris, and a variety of potential political conflicts.

On July 1, City Attorney Jan Goldsmith canceled future "closed sessions" until the Mayor vowed not to harass Goldsmith's deputies.

On July 4, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the FBI inquiries into the Sunroad dealings.

And, just three days ago his fiancee broke off their engagement.

 

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