The plot thickens for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s sex scandal. About two weeks ago Filner’s chief of staff, Vince Hall, resigned due to the allegations that were pending. Now, Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack-Jackson, has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the mayor, she and her attorney, Gloria Allred, said at a news conference Monday.
McCormack-Jackson is the first woman to come forward publicly to accuse Filner; prior to this lawsuit he had faced anonymous allegations that he harassed numerous women. MrCormack-Jackson’s attorney Allred said that Filner had asked McCormack Jackson to “work without her panties on,” placed her in a headlock and told her that he wanted to consummate their relationship, among other incidents of alleged harassment.
“I am coming forward today to lay the blame at the feet of the person responsible, Mayor Bob Filner,” McCormack Jackson said after detailing what she described as the mayor’s harassment of her. “He is not fit to be mayor of our great city. He is not fit to hold any public office. Women were viewed by Mayor Filner as sexual objects or stupid idiots,” said McCormack Jackson, who resigned from her position as communications director in June. “His behavior made me feel ashamed, frightened and violated.”
Filner responded to McCormack Jackson’s allegations in a statement late Monday saying, “I do not believe these claims are valid,” Filner said. “That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail.”
McCormack Jackson resigned from her position as communications director sometime in June. She had previously resigned as vice president of public policy for the Port of San Diego to take a job with Filner’s administration in January at a $50,000 pay cut — said it was time for her to step out from behind the anonymity that cloaks Filner’s alleged victims.
Hall announced his resignation on July 12, over Twitter. He posted the following, “As a lifelong activist for women’s rights and equality, I feel I must resign effective today.” This news came shortly after three prominent San Diego-area elected officials joined the growing list of those calling for the mayor’s resignation amid allegations of sexual harassment.
Mayor Filner issued an apology previously after facing calls for his resignation amid sexual harassment claims. He expressed regret for his treatment of women and vowed to change his behavior, admitting “I need help.” Filner also indicated he will not resign but that “I have reached into my heart and soul and realize I must and will change my behavior.” He said he and his staff will take the sexual harassment training offered by the city.
As people grow and experience life, they become connected to people for a variety of reasons. They work with them, hang out with them, and are related to them. People’s lives intertwine and before they know it, they have forged tight bonds. Out of nowhere they are blindsided by an accusation, an argument or some times, a shocking revelation.
It’s this point in a person’s life they are forced to take notice of the way someone else’s actions can affect their future and they respond with a mindset that finally understands they have to take care of themselves. They realize that if they do not handle the situation correctly, they may inadvertently cause damage to themselves. That’s when they can really relate to the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, in her song, Chain of Fools.” With a gospel feel she sings of being taken advantage of by a seemingly professional con man posing as her new found love. It is a scenario all too familiar for us all. Whether in relationships, friendships or business partnerships we all have endured the sting of being mislead. Here are a few steps to think about when deciding to make the separation from the ‘chain of fools’:
- When breaking the chain, remember to operate in forgiveness: Once a person comes to grips with being made a fool of, they experience a flood of emotions. From rage to guilt to shame, they will run the gambit of feelings. It is very important to come from a place of grace and forgiveness of all the parties involved. And that includes choices they’ve made themselves as it relates to the other party. Often as people struggle to forgive others, they never consider the option to forgive themselves. It’s important that each person forgives Filner for his actions; whether he changes or not. They can only control their own actions.
- As the chains fall, old behaviors must be replaced with new ones: As with any transition, the most vulnerable time is immediately following a drastic change. When a person removes one habit or behavior, it is important to replace it quickly with a better and more positive one. If it’s not done immediately they will suffer in some way. People are creatures of habit, and left alone can be their own worst enemy. They have to immediately begin to work on something else. Neither can afford to sit home and feel sorry for what has happened or regurgitate their emotions surrounding the actions of Filner that prompted their decisions to resign.
- Hurt people, hurt people: The reason the above principle of forgiveness is so vital to a person’s growth is because without it, they cannot truly heal themselves. Think of each relational confrontation as a tear on one’s soul. As each one is experienced, it leaves another mark that individual inwardly. Even after they survive, they are left in a damaged state. If they do not allow time to recoup, they will end up behaving much like the ones who hurt them. They have to perform an autopsy on their time working with Filner and even forgive themselves for either missing or ignoring prior signs that were evident.
It appears, via Twitter, that the people of San Diego and around the globe supported Hall’s decision to resign. So it pays to reason they are in full support of McCormack-Jackson’s decision to publicly come forward. McCormack-Jackson previously made the decision to resign in order to remove herself from Filner’s chain of foolish behavior and now has chosen to seek justice; which is also her right.
Filner has resisted calls for his resignation and maintained that he is not guilty of sexual harassment since the first anonymous allegations were brought forward. Rather, Filner said that he “failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me.”
Allred said that she has not yet been in touch with Filner’s counsel. She encouraged other women who have been harassed by Filner to come forward. “We think that silence only favors the wrongdoer and not the victims,” Allred said.
Allred is a well-known California lawyer; one with a history of taking on high-profile cases, including representing Sharon Bialek, who accused then-GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment. Allred also represented the family of O.J. Simpson’s late wife Nicole Simpson and one of Tiger Woods’s mistresses, Rachel Uchitel, among others.
Irene McCormack-Jackson may be the first to come forward but not the last. A former campaign staffer for Filner became the second woman to publicly accuse him of sexual harassment, saying Tuesday that the then-congressman patted her “posterior” while at a fundraising event.
Laura Fink, who now runs a political consulting firm, told CNN affiliate KPBS that it happened in 2005 when she was working as Filner’s deputy campaign manager.
Fink said she didn’t go public with the incident at the time because she was trying to build her political career. But she said she now feels emboldened to tell her story after Filner’s former spokeswoman, Irene McCormack Jackson, sued him for sexual harassment Monday.
This appears to be the start that will begin a long road for the San Diego Mayor. Perhaps, if he had not let his ego drive his choices, at 70-years-old, he could have resigned and dealt with the consequences of his behavior on a less weighty scale. The plot has thickened and one can only imagine how quickly it will solidify.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)