San Diego, CA– Just when you thought the sexual harassment saga of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner was over, another woman has come forward with claims against him this time accusing him of battery and sexual harassment.
The latest accuser, one among 18, is a district manager of the parks department and alleges Filner touched her inappropriately during a public event in April. Stacie McKenzie, who has worked for the city for 32 years, stated in her claims that Filner put her in a headlock—the infamous “Filner headlock”—and touched her breasts.
“Filner, who was attending the event as a dignitary, sexually battered Ms. McKenzie after asking her on a date when he pursued her across a city park where families were gathered, grabbed her from behind and put her into a headlock with his right arm rubbing across her breasts and his left arm rubbing her upper arm,” Dan Gilleon, McKenzie’s attorney said in a statement, according to Reuters.
The $500,000 claim for battery and sexual harassment is the precursor to a formal civil lawsuit. If the claim is not settled then it will become the second lawsuit filed against the embittered Mayor.
Last week, Filner and the San Diego city council settled the harassment lawsuit filed by Filner’s former press secretary Irene Jackson McCormack. Under the terms of the settlement Filner agreed to resign as the city’s mayor on August 30th.
But that won’t end Filner’s legal woes. The city council filed a counter suit to recover the cost of legal fees they could incur from Jackson McCormack lawsuit, Reuters reported. The city council also voted to deny the Filner’s attorney’s request to pay their legal fees.
The question is why didn’t anyone stop Filner before? His inappropriate behavior was so pervasive and persisted for years. Could it be that the numerous women he harassed were too afraid to speak out because of his position as Mayor? Or, was the city willing to turn a blind eye to his behavior?
McKenzie’s claim states the city is partially responsible for allowing Filner’s sexual harassment and failing to warn women of the mayor’s “predatory behavior.” According to Reuters, McKenzie is seeking $500,000 in punitive and compensatory damages and hopes the city will negotiate with them to settle the suit without costing the city millions.
Last Friday as Filner was announcing his resignation, the emotional mayor he apologized for his behavior. But also took a defensive tone, failing to admit that he sexually harassed any of the 18 women who have come forward with allegations.
“In a lynch mob mentality, rumors become allegations, allegations become facts, facts become evidence of sexual harassment which have led to demands for my resignation and recall,” Filner said.
Filner’s scandal will, hopefully, wind down and the city and the women he harassed can put the issue behind them. However, judging by the pervasiveness of his behavior, could it be possible that there are more women who have been subjected to Filner’s pervy advances and just haven’t come forward? Let’s hope not.