Eight and a half months after being elected chief executive of California’s second-largest city, 17 women have accused Mayor Bob Filner, 70, of sexual harassment. Some allegations against him are recent; others date back 25 years.
A recall petition is under way and calls for the mayor to resign have come from all over the nation. San Diego City Council, San Diego County Democratic Party, California senators Barbra Boxer and Diane Feinstein, Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz, former mayor of San Diego Jerry Sanders, president of the San Diego Unified School District, John Evans, and numerous business and government associations want the mayor to step down. 81 percent of San Diegans agree that Filner should resign, according to the latest U-T San Diego poll.
As if that isn’t all terrible enough, Filner is also facing investigations for misuse of city-issued credit cards and shaking down developers.
After a month and a half of drama and headlines, it is hard to get the whole situation straight. Here is a timeline of the events related to sexual harassment claims so far:
July 8: Citywide attention turned to the mayor’s personal life when his then-fiancé and “First Lady” Bronwyn Ingram called off their engagement and ended the relationship in a letter to her volunteer organization, Team First Lady San Diego, which advocated for the homeless population of the city.
At first, the reasons behind the split were kept private and vague, but as the scandal grew Ingram eventually told U-T San Diego that he had become abusive toward her and was sending sexually explicit text messages to other women.
July 10: Allegations became public when former Councilwoman and Filner Administration staff member, Donna Frye, held a press conference in front of City Hall with attorneys Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzales speaking out for women had been sexually harassed by Filner and calling for the mayor to resign.
“As one who supported you for mayor and encouraged others to do the same, I cannot describe how anguishing it is to ask that you now vacate the office, “ Frye wrote in a letter delivered the day before the press conference. “I cannot in good conscience remain silent on this, even if those who have spoken to me choose to do so out of fear of retribution or the possibility of a media circus where they could be twice victimized.”
July 11: The mayor responded to the allegations in a video statement saying he has “diminished the office” that the people of San Diego elected him to and that he has “failed to fully respect” the women who work for and with him. He admitted to intimidating women, and said his behavior should be called out for what it is, ”inappropriate and wrong.”
“You have every right to be disappointed in me,” he said. “ 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.”
July 12: Vince Hall, Filner’s chief of staff, resigned his office. Hall announced the resignation on Twitter. “As a lifelong activist for women’s rights and equality, I feel I must resign effective today,” he tweeted.
Tony Buckles, Filner’s former chief of staff when he was in Congress, filled in as interim chief of staff.
July 15: Frye, Briggs and Gonzales held a second press conference going into more detail about the allegations, but still not naming the victims. Calls for Filner to resign became more forceful.
“We want the women of this city and the people who love them to know that sexual abuse and this behavior is not normal, not their fault and they are not to blame,” said Frye. “Bob Filner is to blame and he needs to resign. We need to stand by our women who have been abused, who have been sexually harassed, and stand up for them and get him out of office. Help us stop this horrible, horrible civic nightmare.”
Examples of the harassment given at the press conference included Filner kissing a campaign volunteer, “shoving his tongue down her throat” and later groping beneath her bra, cornering and kissing a constituent at a meet-and-greet at city hall, and grabbing the behind and chest of a mayoral staffer and telling her to work without her underwear on.
Filner appointed an interim chief operating officer, Walt Ekahrd, to manage the day-to-day operations of the city in response to criticism that he could not do so himself when surrounded by such controversy.
July 19: San Diego County Sheriff’s Office announced they will investigate Filner for sexual harassment. The Sheriff’s Office launched a victim’s hotline for anyone to call with reports of sexual misconduct or other criminal behavior involving Filner. The hotline number is (619) 481-0220.
July 22: Filner’s former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, 57, filed a suit against the mayor and the City of San Diego. McCormick was the first victim to publically come forward. In a press conference with her attorney, Gloria Allred, McCormack accused Filner of trying to kiss her and putting her in a headlock and whispering sexual comments in her ear, including telling her to work without her underwear on.
“I do not believe these claims are valid. That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail,” Filner said in a statement responding to the suit.
July 23: A second woman, Laura Fink, political consultant and former deputy campaign manager for the Filner campaign, accused Filner of patting her behind at a campaign event.
Filner was restricted from meeting alone with women at city facilities.
July 24: A third woman, Morgan Rose, said Filner tried to kiss her four times when he was a Congressman. Rose is a psychologist for San Diego Unified School District.
Filner hired Lee Burdick, his former legal advisor, as his new chief of staff. Burdick, a woman, is responsible for enforcing the “Filner can’t be alone with women” rule.
July 25: Four more women accused Filner of inappropriate behavior in an interview with KPBS.
Sharon Bernie-Cloward, president of the San Diego Port Tenant’s Association, said Filner grabbed her behind.
Patti Roscoe, a local businesswoman, said Filner put her in a headlock and tried to kiss her. When she turned away he “slobbered” a kiss on her cheek.
Veronica Froman, a retired Navy Rear Admiral, said Filner ran his hands down her cheek and asked her out.
Joyce Gattas, dean of the San Diego State University College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts said Filner kissed her cheek, touched her knee, and held her too tight. She also said she has seen Filner touch other women.
Filner announced he will voluntarily undergo two weeks of “intensive therapy” beginning August 5.
July 26: Filner was served a subpoena to appear for a deposition in the harassment suit on August 9. His lawyer, Harvey Berger, responded saying that the mayor would not be available because he would be spending two weeks in voluntary intensive therapy for his problems dealing with woman, as Filner had announced the day before.
July 27: Stampp Corbin, publisher of LGBT Weekly, published a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition in U-T San Diego Newspaper.
July 29: In a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, Filner’s lawyer, Harvey Berger, claimed that San Diego is liable because the city did not provide sexual harassment training.
“The City has a legal obligation to provide sexual harassment training to all management level employees, and to provide such training to new management within six months of hire,” the letter reads. “In fact, it is my understanding that such training was scheduled, but that the trainer for the City unilaterally canceled, and never re-scheduled with such training for the Mayor (and others.) Therefore, if there is any liability at all, the City will almost certainly be liable for “failing to prevent harassment…”
July 30: The City Council unanimously voted to file a cross-complaint against Filner. The suit would require Filner to pay the city back if the city is held liable and forced to pay McCormack for damages in the sexual harassment lawsuit.
July 31: Lisa Curtin, an administrator with San Diego City College, accused Filner of kissing her on the cheek. Curtin was the eighth accuser to go public.
August 1: Former COO of the city, Jay Goldstone, disputed the claims in the letter from Berger that the city trainer canceled the sexual harassment training.
“Absolutely not. I am 100 percent certain that (the trainer) did not cancel it,” Goldstone told Voice of San Diego.
Goldstone said that the mayor’s office canceled several training sessions covering payroll, benefits and other topics because they didn’t have time for them. Eventually they held a session that covered benefits only because officials were told they wouldn’t be eligible to receive benefits without it.
August 2: A ninth woman, Emily Gilbert, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike hired to sing at one of Filner’s fundraisers, said that Filner grabbed her behind.
The separate recall efforts, headed by Stampp Corbin and Michael Pallamary, joined forces.
August 4: Woman number 10, Renee Estill-Sombright, a bank employee and part-time singer, said Filner asked her out repeatedly and asked her for a “private show.”
August 5: Filner was scheduled to enter behavior therapy. (When exactly he entered therapy is unknown due to contradictory reports from Filner’s chief of staff and his lawyers.)
August 6: Michelle Tyler, a nurse and the 11th woman to go public, accused Filner in a press conference with attorney Gloria Allred of asking her for dates in exchange for helping an injured Marine that Tyler went to Filner to lobby for.
August 7: Two female veterans, both survivors of rape in the military, told CNN that Filner behaved inappropriately at a National Women’s Veterans Association of America “Healing and Hiring Fair.”
Eldonna Fernandez, an Air Force veteran, said Filner made a pass at her after hearing her speak about the empowerment of women and strength it takes to survive as a rape victim. She said he followed up with a flirtatious voicemail.
Gerri Tindley, an Army veteran, said Filner groped her at the same event.
Filner’s attorney filed a motion to have the case heard in Imperial County out of fear that finding an unbiased jury in San Diego County will not be possible due to all the public scrutiny and media attention. Imperial County is part of Congressional District 51, which Filner represented when he was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
August 8: A city employee, who only revealed her first name as Stacy, told news radio KOGO that Filner put her in a headlock and asked her out. Stacy became the 14th woman to accuse Filner of misconduct.
August 9: Burdick told the media that Filner entered therapy a week early due to “intense media coverage” and has completed his therapy. Filner would return to San Diego, but not City Hall. A statement from his lawyers said he is taking personal time and continuing therapy on an outpatient basis.
August 10: Filner’s lawyers say he completed therapy.
August 12: Critics of the mayor held a “Not Welcome Home Rally” in Civic Center Plaza.
August 13: Corbin and Pallamary launched RecallBobFilner.com to collect donations and volunteers for the recall effort.
Filner responded to the recall campaign in a statement touting his achievements and saying, “Now is not the time to go backwards…”
Hooters locations around San Diego said they will refuse service to Filner.
August 15: Kathryn Vaughn, a local attorney and Peggy Shannon, a part-time City Hall volunteer at the senior citizens desk, came forward with complaints about Filner. Vaughn said Filner groped her at a public event about a decade ago. Shannon, a 67-year-old great-grandmother, said at a press conference with Gloria Allred that Filner said harassing things to her and kissed her.
The City Attorney’s Office released a memo stating that the City Council may be able to remove “an officer” from office without a recall or impeachment. Citing Section 108 of the City Charter, the memo says that officers may be removed from office because of misuse of city money. Filner is under investigation for personal charges on his city credit card-- including media reports that he may have taken women to the Westgate Plaza Hotel on the city’s dime.
August 16: Hosts of the “Jeff and Jer Showgram” on KYXY paid a skywriter to write “SURRENDER BOB” in the sky over Mission Valley, Rancho Bernardo, and Downtown.
August 18: Hundreds of people gathered outside City Hall in a “Freedom from Filner Rally.”
Recall effort starts gathering signatures.
August 19: A 17th woman, Real estate agent Caryl Iseman, told CNN iReporter Chris Morrow that Filner groped her breast at a fundraiser 25 years ago.
Supporters of due process for the mayor hold a news briefing outside of City Hall. Enrique Morones, founder of the immigrant activist organization Border Angels, organized the gathering of over 70 people.
Filner entered into mediation with representatives of the City of San Diego and McCormack. Details have not been released.
August 20: Before Filner has even left office, the race to become the next mayor of San Diego is on when former state assemblyman Nathan Fletcher files his intent to run with the City Clerk's Office.
August 21: Dianne York, founder of DYG Cosmetics, told CNN that Filner grabbed her buttocks after a meeting at City Hall three months ago. York became the 18th woman to make accusations against Filner.
August 23: A little more a month after McCormack filed her lawsuit, Bob Filner accepted a settlement deal that will see him resign his office effective Aug. 30.
"I never sexually harassed anyone," said Filner, speaking after the City Council voted to accept the settlement. Filner apologized to those he had offended, but argued that due process would have vindicated him in court.
August 30: Filner's resignation became effective at 5 p.m. As of 5:01 p.m., City Council President Todd Gloria became acting mayor of San Diego.
"It's a new day in San Diego," said Gloria in a press conference Friday evening. "....It's very clear that there's a lot of work to be done."