“I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them,” the mayor admitted in a statement.
Mayor Bob Filner’s prepared video statement released Thursday, the same day three high-profile allies accused him of sexually harassing female employees.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner released a statement on Thursday afternoon apologizing to city residents, hours after he was accused of sexually harassing numerous female employees.
“I begin today by apologizing to you. I have diminished the office to which you elected me. I have reached into my heart and soul and realize I must and will change my behavior,” he said in the DVD.
Earlier Thursday, three high-profile San Diegans described sexual harassment allegations involving “numerous” female employees of Mayor Bob Filner who were subjected to “unfortunate and reprehensible circumstances” but refused to reveal victim identities or details of the alleged behavior.
Filner continued, “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.
“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. In addition, my staff and I will participate in sexual harassment training provided by the city.
“Please know that I fully understand that only I am the one who can make these changes. If my behavior doesn’t change I cannot succeed in leading our city.
“In the next few days, I will be reaching out to those who now work to those who now work in the Mayor’s Office or have previously worked for me – both men and women – to personally apologize for my behavior.”
Filner then said that residents have every right to be disappointed in him.
“I only ask that you give me an opportunity to prove I am capable of change, so that the vision I have for our city’s future can be realized,” he said.
The attorney representing the women who claim Filner sexually harrassed them said he will not comment until Friday, saying he wants to speak with clients first and find out if they are satisfied with this apology.
Lori Saldaña, pictured at 2012 rally in support of women’s rights.
The local Democratic Party has known for a long time about sexual harassment allegations against Bob Filner, a former Democratic assemblywoman said in a Thursday interview.
“I blew the whistle on this two years ago to the Democratic Party leadership,” former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña said.
Saldaña said that in summer 2011 six prominent women in local politics, business and education told her that Filner had physically or verbally harassed them. Saldaña had been exploring what turned out to be an unsuccessful bid for Congress and the conversations came in the context of the 2012 elections.
Saldaña said she contacted former party Chairman Jess Durfee with the allegations and Durfee was among a group of Democratic leaders who met with Filner to discuss them that summer. She said nothing happened.
“As disgraceful as Bob’s behavior has been, it’s been tolerated by our Democratic Party leadership,” she said.
Saldaña said Filner never personally harassed her and declined to say who alleged to have had run-ins with the mayor. She said former City Councilwoman Donna Frye, who is calling for Filner’s resignation over unspecified sexual harassment allegations, inspired her to talk.
Saldaña has a long history of conflict with Filner, most prominently over a failed border sewage treatment project about a decade ago. She also wound up endorsing him for mayor.
Party leaders, she said, made it clear that if people didn’t support Filner they wouldn’t receive their support again.
Durfee, the former party chairman, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Current party Chairwoman Francine Busby released a statement after the allegations broke Wednesday saying she and the party take sexual harassment claims very seriously and that they’re awaiting the mayor’s response.