San Diego Mayor Bob Filner “jammed his tongue” down the throat of one woman on a public street, according to former city councilwoman and mayor staff member Donna Frye, and attorneys Marco Gonzalez and Cory Briggs, all former Filner supporters.
In a news conference held on July 15, just four days after first publicly calling for the mayor’s resignation, an angry Donna Frye went into specific detail about his Bob Filner’s behavior towards women. She again demanded the mayor’s resignation. The 34-minute video of the press conference is on KGTV’s website.
Frye explained that “sexual harassment occurs when the behavior is unwanted and causes harm.” She then recounted one victim’s allegations. The victim had been a volunteer during Filner’s mayoral campaign. Once Filner won the woman met with him to talk about policy issues. At a first meeting, she felt uncomfortable when the mayor asked about her personal life, but she brushed it off, Frye said, because she was “excited to have the ear of the most influential person in town.”
A second meeting was held in a public location. As the woman was leaving with the mayor, Frye said the woman told her Filner said, “I want to kiss you, you are so beautiful” and then he started “jamming his tongue down her throat.”
The woman didn’t want to come off as rude and was uncertain what to do, Frye said. The woman told her that didn’t want to leave the mayor alone on the street, so said made the mistake of letting the mayor into her car to drive him home.
According to Frye, the woman told her that’s when “the mayor had his hand on the inside of her bra and again tried to put his tongue down her throat.” Frye said the woman felt in order to be heard by the mayor she would have to accept the unwanted sexual advances.
According to Frye, another victim was asked out by the mayor during a meeting with the mayor after he dismissed the staff aide taking notes. She turned him down but seconds later the mayor asked the victim to kiss him and again she refused his advances. Frye said that then the victim alleges the mayor grabbed her and kissed her.
Marco Gonzalez told of the incident when Filner told one woman the entire floor (part of the mayoral staff) would do a better job “without their panties on.”
“There is no circumstance where it would be appropriate for the mayor to say to a woman in the elevator that they would do a better a job…if they worked without their panties on,” Gonzalez angrily exclaimed.
Frye also described what mayoral staff members called “The Filner Dance” after witnessing it so often.
“The Filner Dance is when a woman, faced with the mayor close to her face, not wanting to be kissed tries to evade,” he alleged. Gonzalez also described a moment when his client was allegedly told by Filner: “I’d do a better job if you kiss me.” He said that staffers call him “the dirty old man.”
Filner continues to say he is innocent despite the fact that in his DVD statement on July 11 in which he apologized to intimidating women and that he failed to fully respect women.
Gonzalez also talked about litigation. Gonzalez and Frye said their goal is to protect the women, who are reluctant to reveal their identities because of the scrutiny they might face.
“When you go forward as a woman who has been sexually harassed the questions are, what do you look like, what were you wearing, what was your role?” Gonzalez said. Basically the victims are treated as if they were the one who encourage the behavior.
At the end of the press conference Donna Frye angrily said she wanted to make it clear – it is not the women who were wrong, it was Bob Filner who took advantage of his position of power.
She insisted that the community needs to stand with these women. When asked why these women didn’t go to the HR department and report him, she went ballistic. “How do you report the most powerful man in the city?” They feared retaliation and that no one would ever believe them.
“We will all fail the women of our city if we ask them to continue to meet with this man. To seek the leadership of one who will continue to harass and grope, and try and stick their tongue down their throats, grab their breasts,” Frye said.
Adding to the fuel is the abrupt end of his relationship with fiancée Bronwyn Ingram. Ingram said she broke off their engagement because he was verbally abusive toward her and blatantly sent sexually explicit text messages to other women, KPBS reported on July 15.
In the statement to the press, Ingram said Filner’s ability to lead has been impaired by numerous recent controversies, most notably allegations that he sexually harassed women who work for and with him. She also talked about his hostile behavior towards her while they were in Paris, yelling at her in public for “no reason.”
“While I had heard rumors that he was engaging in sexual relationships with other women, I was never able to determine their validity,” Ingram wrote.
“However, as Bob’s behavior continued to become more aggressive, standard decorum seemed to disappear. Bob recently began texting other women sexually explicit messages and setting up dates while in my presence and within my line of vision.”
Ingram’s full statement is available on KPBS.org.
Frye and Gonzalez have stated that this is not about litigation. They want to make sure these women get the help they need and that the city gets the leadership it deserves.
“Bob Filner is tragically unsafe for any woman to approach,” Frye said. Referring to the alleged victims she said, “This behavior is not normal. Not their fault. They are not to blame. Bob Filner is to blame. And he needs to resign,” Frye screamed.