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Disgraced San Diego Mayor Bob Filner stepping aside today

By Tom Watkins, CNN
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Fri August 30, 2013
Businesswoman <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/21/us/san-diego-mayor-bob-filner-scandal/index.html' target='_blank'>Dianne York</a> told CNN that<a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/21/us/san-diego-mayor-bob-filner-scandal/index.html'> San Diego Mayor Bob Filner </a>put his hands on her buttocks during this photo op after a meeting three months ago. York said there were witnesses. She said both her advisers and Filner's were in the room at the time. Click through the gallery of other women who have come forward in the case. Businesswoman Dianne York told CNN that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner put his hands on her buttocks during this photo op after a meeting three months ago. York said there were witnesses. She said both her advisers and Filner's were in the room at the time. Click through the gallery of other women who have come forward in the case.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bob Filner's resignation becomes effective at 5 p.m. (8 p.m. ET)
  • In all, 19 women have accused Filner of impropriety
  • Filner apologized but said he "never sexually harassed anyone"

(CNN) -- The mayor of San Diego's goodbye concludes Friday at 5 p.m., when his resignation -- submitted last week after a string of women accused him of sexual impropriety and boorish behavior -- becomes effective.

A spokeswoman for Bob Filner did not immediately return a call, and the city website -- still showing his photograph -- did not outline what he planned to do on his final day at the helm of the country's eighth-largest city, which has 1.38 million residents.

But attorney Gloria Allred, who represents several of his 19 accusers, held a news conference with "some of his victims."

"San Diegans will finally be free of Bob Filner and all the shame that he has brought to the city," Allred told reporters. "This is a day for celebration and a day for congratulation."

The former nine-term Democratic congressman began what was to have been a four-year term last December, but resigned last week as the accusations grew.

An apology and promise to seek help, delivered on July 11, failed to save his job. "I have diminished the office to which you elected me," he said in a prepared statement. "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."

He added, "I am also humbled to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach."

Opinion: No room for lecherous mayors

But the City Council accepted his resignation on August 23 in a 7-0 vote, after which the 70-year-old mayor offered a "deep apology."

"The city should not have been put through this," he said. "And my own personal failures were responsible."

Still, he insisted, he had "never sexually harassed anyone."

While he was "trying to establish personal relationships," the mayor said, "the combination of awkwardness and hubris, I think, led to behavior that many found offensive." He added: "Not one allegation ... has ever been independently verified or proven in court."

"But the hysteria that has been created ... is the hysteria of a lynch mob," Filner said. Politicians and the news media had "unleashed a monster," and the resulting "hysteria ended up playing into the hands of those who wanted a political coup -- the removal of a democratically elected mayor purely by rumor and innuendo."

City Council President Todd Gloria, a fellow Democrat who had called on Filner to resign, is to serve as interim mayor, and a special election is scheduled for November 19.

"Obviously, the biggest deal is just to clean up City Hall," said Katie Keach, the incoming interim mayor's deputy chief of staff. He will also review all of the city's departments "to find out what's working and what's not and what might have been hidden over the last nine months," she said.

Gloria will work to "restore some of the trust of San Diegans."

The city website, which displayed a smiling picture of Filner, "will be switched around five today," she said. "I know that IT is on it."

The agreement does not affect a lawsuit brought against Filner by Irene McCormack Jackson, Filner's former communications chief. Though she remains a municipal employee, Jackson left her job in July, when she sued the mayor, saying he had subjected women to "crude and disgusting" comments and inappropriate touching.

She has been offered her old job back, Keach said.

The city's liability does not end with his departure. And Filner himself is hardly out of the woods. He faces one lawsuit, and a spokesman for the state attorney general said a criminal investigation is under way.

Numerous public officials, including all nine City Council members and the state's two U.S. senators, had urged Filner to step down. So, too, did most locals, according to polls.

Some of them voiced that view to City Council members last week. Others rose to support Filner.

Scott Andrews said that "everything but due process has occurred," while one woman called the political machinations "a circus to get a good man out of office."

CNN's Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

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