San Diego Mayor to Enter Rehab Over Allegations of Sexual Harassment

Filner said he will be briefed while in the behavioral counseling clinic and plans to return to the job on Aug. 19

By R. Stickney, Wendy Fry and Chris Chan
|  Saturday, Jul 27, 2013  |  Updated 7:17 AM EDT
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After an audio interruption, Mayor Bob Filner explains his plan for rehab following several weeks of pressure to resign. Seven women have come forward accusing the mayor of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior.

After an audio interruption, Mayor Bob Filner explains his plan for rehab following several weeks of pressure to resign. Seven women have come forward accusing the mayor of sexual harassment and inappropriate sexual behavior.

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Mayor Filner Snoozes in SANDAG Meeting

Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner sleeps through a meeting Friday, several hours before he announced he will be entering rehab to correct inappropriate behavior involving women. Special Section:Mayor Under Fire.
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San Diego Mayor Bob Filner announced he will undergo intensive therapy for two weeks following several allegations of inappropriate sexual advances and sexual harassment but did not even mention the word resignation.

In front of reporters and cameras, Filner said he would take responsibility for his conduct. "Words are not enough," he said before a microphone failure interrupted the long-awaited statement.

Special Section: Mayor Under Fire

The mayor has refused to comment publicly on allegations of groping, forceful kissing and crude comments made by seven women including a retired U.S. Navy admiral.

On Aug. 5 he will begin two-weeks of intensive counseling "to begin the process of addressing my behavior," Filner said.

“It is simply not acceptable for me to try and explain away my conduct as the product of standards of a different generation,” Filner said, adding that he has apologized to his staff and citizens who have supported him.

“Most of all I apologize to the women I have offended,” he said.

Read Filner's Full Statement

He called it a first step in a continuing program that will involve ongoing regular counseling.

"I must become a better person," Filner said.

Filner said he planned to stay updated throughout his rehab with morning and evening updates on city business, and will return to the job on Aug. 19.

Read: Who's in Charge of San Diego?

Attorney Cory Briggs, one of the three longtime supporters who first brought the allegations to the public's attention, told NBC 7 that Filner has not reached out to apologize to any of his clients.

Briggs represents some of the women who claim to have been harassed by the mayor.

On Thursday, an interview with four San Diego women brought new allegations to light. With their stories, Sharon Bernie-Cloward, president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, businesswoman Patti Roscoe, retired Navy rear-admiral Veronica "Ronne" Froman and Joyce Gattas, Dean of SDSU's College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, described incidents with the mayor from his time as a Congressman to his run for San Diego's mayor's seat.

The women claimed Filner cornered or isolated them and attempted to kiss them or touch parts of their bodies inappropriately.

The new allegations are in addition to those already made public by political consultant Laura Fink, San Diego Unified School District psychologist Morgan Rose and former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson.

McCormack Jackson filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment for comments she said Filner made during her six months on his senior staff.  She has accused the mayor of repeatedly asking for a kiss and for sex, as well as suggesting she would do a better job if she worked without underwear.

Fink alleges that Filner grabbed her buttocks when she was working on his campaign. Rose claims Filner blocked her from leaving while attempting to kiss her during a private meeting.

On Thursday night, San Diego County Democrats voted to ask Filner to step down.

The Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz has also called for the mayor to resign.

"The misconduct Mayor Bob Filner has been accused of is reprehensible and indefensible. I am personally offended by his actions and I firmly believe no employee should face a hostile environment or harassment at their place of employment. There is no place for this type of conduct in the workplace and certainly not in our city halls and public offices. For the good of the City of San Diego, I call on Mayor Filner to resign."

Timeline: Mayor Filner's Term in Office

Filner appeared Friday morning at a meeting of San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The meeting was a regularly scheduled discussion. 

As the board was hearing public comment on the South Bay Transit Project, Mayor Filner was falling asleep at the table. At times he would raise his head, open his eyes and then his eyelids would slowly close again. Watch video

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