On the first anniversary of then-Mayor Bob Filner’s announcement of his resignation, the city of San Diego is still dealing with lawsuits filed on behalf of women who accused him of sexual harassment.
The former 10-term congressman announced at a special City Council meeting on Aug. 23, 2013, that he would step down, but his resignation did not become official until one week later. He subsequently pleaded guilty to criminal charges and spent three months confined to his downtown condominium.
Litigation over his alleged conduct while in office continues, meanwhile. The latest lawsuit was filed last week by Benelia Santos-Hunter, a former member of the mayoral office staff.
Santos-Hunter, an executive assistant now on leave from the city, alleges that Filner first harassed her by kissing her on the forehead, staring into her eyes and asking if she realized how beautiful she was.
On Valentine’s Day 2013, Filner tried to hug and kiss her without her consent, and said things like “You need me as your lover” and “Be my Valentine,” according to the complaint.
The suit accuses the former mayor of other misconduct, including locking Santos-Hunter in a room, placing her in what became known as the “Filner headlock,” touching her buttocks and attempting to touch her breasts.
Wednesday, Filner gave a 90-minute deposition in a $500,000 lawsuit filed by city parks employee Stacy McKenzie, who alleges he grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and rubbed her breasts at an April 2013 event.
Also suing Filner are Marilyn McGaughy, who contends he rubbed her breast, kissed her forehead and asked her out during an event at a school, Michelle Tyler and Katherine Rogazzino. The latter two were seeking assistance from Filner for Rogazzino, a wounded ex-Marine who was having trouble obtaining veteran’s benefits.
Tyler claims in a federal lawsuit that Filner demanded a personal and sexual relationship with her.
Filner resigned as part of a deal in which the city agreed to defend him against claims filed by city employees, volunteers or contractors. The city reserved the right to seek reimbursement for any damages it suffers.
Filner’s former communications chief, Irene McCormack Jackson, settled litigation earlier this year for $250,000. She was the first woman to accuse Filner of misconduct, alleging he told her she should work without her panties on, and placed her in the headlock and led her around while making suggestive remarks, among other things.
Peggy Shannon, who alleged that the then-mayor asked her out and kissed her on the lips while she worked in the lobby of the City Administration Building, settled her claim in exchange for an official apology and a proclamation of “Peggy Shannon Day” in the city.
City Council President Todd Gloria became interim mayor on Aug. 30 last year and served in that capacity until March 3, when Kevin Faulconer was sworn in to finish Filner’s term.
— City News Service
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