On Thursday, the mayor — who has been under intense scrutiny for several allegations not limited to sexual harassment — released a video to reporters saying that he “must and will change,” and is seeking professional help.
“As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people,” Filner says in the tape, “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 did not provide details on any of the incidents.
The video was disseminated just a few hours after three of Filner’s close supporters held a press conference to address the allegations. Filner’s former Director of Open Government, Donna Frye, along with two lawyers — Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez — spoke emotionally on behalf of women who Frye said were “too scared to speak” or file formal complaints. “I believe what they have told me, and they need to know that they are not alone,” Frye said.
Briggs added, “When you’re ready to file lawsuits, I’ll be standing in court.” Filner’s victims, the three say, include city employees.
Filner’s admission comes amid other allegations of unethical behavior. Earlier this week, reporters pressed the mayor to disclose what group had funded a trip he took to France, but Filner refused to say, only acknowledging that “his flight, meals and lodging were paid by the unnamed 501(c)(3) tied to the National Council of Resistance of Iran.” ABC 10 in California believes the trip cost taxpayers $22,000.