CREDIT: Bill Wechter/Getty Images
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) entered an “intensive therapy program” on Monday, a spokeswoman for the politician confirms, and will take a two-week leave of absence from the office while he receives treatment. Over the past month, the mayor has refused to resign despite mounting allegations of sexual harassment against his female employees.
And as Filner checked himself into a therapy program, yet another woman has come forward to accuse the mayor of making inappropriate advances toward her. Renee Estill-Sombright is the tenth woman to accuse Filner of sexual harassment — right after a ninth woman, Emily Gilbert, came forward on Friday. After Filner’s former press secretary first filed the lawsuit against him in July, alleging he told her she would “work better without your panties on,” a string of other women have spoken up to say he also groped them or made lewd comments directed at them.
When the allegations against Filner first became public last month, he promised to seek professional help. But he also blamed the city for failing to provide him with preventative services, claiming that he wouldn’t have behaved inappropriately if he had received sexual harassment prevention training.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle, as well as feminist advocacy groups, have called on Filner to resign. One of the lawyers for Filner’s former press secretary, Gloria Allred, pointed out that going to therapy is yet another “ploy” the 70-year-old mayor is using to try to stay in office. “It is ridiculous to think that he needs therapy in order to understand that women deserve respect and should not be treated like pieces of meat,” Allred said.
While Filner is out of the office over the next two weeks, he will still be required to meet with lawyers representing his former press secretary as that legal case proceeds.