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San Diego mayor not stepping down from job despite harassment allegations

By CNN Staff
updated 7:19 PM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A former councilwoman said she'd heard complaints from two women
  • The women alleged they'd been sexually harassed by the mayor, the councilwoman said
  • No formal complaint has been filed
  • The mayor says he doesn't believe he's guilty and will not step down

(CNN) -- San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, dogged by allegations of sexual harassment, said Monday that he will not step down from his post.

"As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions," he said in a statement. "But as a citizen of this country, I also expect -- and am entitled to -- due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me."

His statement came hours before a former city councilwoman and two attorneys held a news conference detailing allegations against the mayor.

Filner admits he needs 'help' amid sexual harassment allegations

Former councilwoman Donna Frye -- a Democrat, like Filner -- recently worked in the mayor's office. She said two women had described to her how they had allegedly been sexually harassed by the mayor.

San Diego mayor: 'Must and will change'

Lawyers who appeared with Frye at the news conference said no formal complaint has been filed. One of the attorneys, Marco Gonzalez, who represents one of the unidentified accusers, said he intends to file a sexual harassment claim with the city and may also file civil lawsuits against San Diego.

A spokesman for the city attorney confirmed there is no formal complaint. "There has not been a sexual harassment complaint or complaints involving Mayor Filner filed with the City Attorney's Office," Interim Communications Director Michael Giorgino said in a statement to CNN.

Has the road to political redemption gotten shorter?

Last Thursday, the mayor issued a statement saying that he had "diminished the office" to which he was elected.

"The charges made at today's news conference are serious," he said in last week's statement, issued after Frye sent him a letter asking for him to step down. "When a friend like Donna Frye is compelled to call for my resignation, I'm clearly doing something wrong. I have reached into my heart and soul and realized I must and will change my behavior.

"As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people, I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them."

"It's a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong."

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