ABCNews.go.com reports former San Diego mayor Bob Filner has plead guilty to a felony and two misdemeanor charges from three women he allegedly had unwanted physical contact with at public events.
Filner, 71, resigned after only nine months as San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years amid accusations from at least 17 women alleging sexual harassment and lewd behavior. Filner’s plea deals with a charge of felony false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor battery.
The deal calls for three months of house arrest, three years of probation and requires mental health treatment. The maximum sentence for these charges is a three year prison sentence and one year each for the misdemeanors.
Filner is also banned from ever seeking or holding public office in the future. Filner must also surrender any portion of his pension earned after Mar. 6, the date of the felony offense. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 9.
The felony charge stems from a woman who was reportedly “restrained against her will” at a fundraiser. The misdemeanors are from one woman who reported Filner kissed her without permission. The other misdemeanor charge is from a woman who says her buttocks were grabbed.
Irene McCormack Jackson was the first to bring allegations against Filner. As his former communications director, Jackson alleges Filner wanted her to work without underwear, and demanded kisses from her. Filner also reportedly told Jackson he “wanted to see her naked” and used a headlock on her while whispering in her ear. Jackson brought a lawsuit against Filner and the city.
San Diego council members began calling for Filner’s resignation, along with other Democrats. The community mounted a grassroots recall effort to further pressure the embattled mayor. Filner conceded the point in August, but insisted he was the “victim of a lynch mob” and believed he would be cleared of the charges.
Before his resignation, Filner was demanding to face his accusers and be allowed to respond to the specific allegations. He continued to state he did not believe himself guilty of sexual harassment, stating he is “a tough boss” expecting excellence from the people who work for him.
In exchange for his resignation, the city will pay Filner’s legal fees in joint defense of the lawsuit Jackson has brought against him as well as cover settlement costs assessed against him. The city will not cover any punitive damages but, as required by law, will defend him in in any legal action from other sexual harassment charges stemming from his nine months in office.
City Attorney Jane has stated they will not be representing Filner in criminal court, however.
San Diego County sheriffs have been interviewing Filner’s accusers and plan to present their findings to the attorney general’s office for a decision on prosecuting the former mayor on the charges that led to his resignation. The state attorney general’s office confirmed they launched a criminal investigation in August.
Filner’s plea comes just two days before a grand jury convenes to hear evidence against him in the criminal charges brought against him. The plea was entered during a hearing today in San Diego Superior Court. His lawyer, Jerry Coughlan, read a statement on behalf of his client after the pleas were entered, saying Filner would “continue the ongoing rehabilitation” he submitted to after his resignation.
Filner’s accusers all stand ready to meet him in court and testify about their experiences at his hands. The number of women who have brought charges against his is at least 17 and some report the number as high as 19. These women are professionals, ranging from a city worker, to a spa owner. An admiral, a campaign manager and a school psychologist have also come forward with accusations. Based upon reports from waitresses, all four Hooters restaurant in the area have a standing policy against serving Filner.
Filner’s issues in dealing with women appear to have followed him in and out of the mayor’s office. Pending charges may still come to light once the grand jury has a chance to review evidence against him. Filner’s guilty pleas on the felony and misdemeanor charges notwithstanding, he may have to face jail time for the many women he has offended.
Written by: Brandi Tasby