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We’ve come a long way in two weeks.
On July 10, three progressive former supporters of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner called on him to resign based on anonymous, vague sexual harassment allegations that lacked the heft of a criminal or civil complaint. Filner’s primary defense relied on the fact that the allegations were anonymous, vague and didn’t afford him the due process of a formal investigation.
Those days are over.
Filner’s accusers now have names and faces. They’ve released tawdry and specific details, including the dates and places of his alleged harassing behavior toward them. One of the accusers filed a lawsuit. Another plans to contact the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. A third, who still remains anonymous, has filed a complaint with the state.
What makes things worse for Filner is that his public accusers are highly credible.
Irene McCormack, Filner’s former communications director, spent more than two decades as a respected journalist in town and almost 10 years as an executive with the Unified Port of San Diego. Reporters called her by her first name when she walked into a press conference to read a statement that alleged, among other things, that the mayor said she’d work better without panties on. News stories focused on McCormack rather than the celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who sat by her side.
Laura Fink, Filner’s former deputy campaign manager, delivered a straightforward narrative to KPBS describing Filner patting her on the buttocks and making a crude remark to her at a fundraiser in 2005. She backed up her account by sharing an email she sent to Filner and his then- and current chief of staff.
Contrast Filner’s accusers with the mayor since the scandal broke. The mayor has said:
• “I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them.”
• “I need help.”
• “The biggest monster right now is inside me, which we will deal with.”
• “I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me.”
• “I do not believe these claims are valid.”
All of Filner’s statements are a long way from a simple, definitive “I didn’t do it.”
Two weeks into this scandal, the tables have turned: The mayor sounds more vague about how he’s behaved than his accusers.
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