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Woman says Filner harassed her even as accusations were going public

Peggy Shannon, 67, accuses San Diego mayor of sexually harassing her even as accusations about his conduct were about to surface.

August 15, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • Peggy Shannon, 67, left, a part-time worker at San Diego City Hall, is shown with attorney Gloria Allred. Shannon says Mayor Bob Filner continually made sexually inappropriate comments to her about wanting to begin a personal relationship.
Peggy Shannon, 67, left, a part-time worker at San Diego City Hall, is shown… (John Gibbins )

SAN DIEGO — A 67-year-old woman on Thursday accused Mayor Bob Filner of sexually harassing her even as accusations about his conduct toward women were about to become public.

Peggy Shannon, a part-time employee at the senior citizens service desk at City Hall, said Filner continually made sexually inappropriate comments to her about wanting to begin a personal relationship.

She said he once kissed her on the lips and on another occasion asked her: "Do you think I could go eight hours straight?"

Shannon and her attorney, Gloria Allred, suggested at a news conference that the comment was an off-color reference to sex. "I was shocked he would say that to me," said Shannon, her voice breaking.

Shannon said Filner's misconduct began soon after he became mayor and continued each time he would see her at her desk in the lobby of City Hall.

By late June, Filner's staff had complained at two emotional meetings with him that his conduct was unacceptable. Also, former Councilwoman Donna Frye had gone to Filner telling him to change his conduct immediately.

Still, Filner's misconduct continued, Shannon and Allred said.

On July 12, the day after Frye and two other former supporters held a news conference alerting the public to Filner's alleged pattern of sexual misbehavior, the mayor passed Shannon's desk and held his finger to his lips, a sign that he wanted her to keep silent about his behavior, Shannon said.

Shannon is the 16th woman to accuse Filner of sexual misconduct, all of whom have said he should resign. Among the 16 are two college officials, a longtime city employee, a political consultant, a prominent business executive, two military veterans, a retired Navy admiral and two singers.

Allred said Shannon works at City Hall to supplement her Social Security income. Shannon told reporters that she has three sons, four grandsons and two great-grandsons.

Allred has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of Filner's former director of communications, Irene McCormack Jackson. Last week she held a news conference beside a nurse who said Filner made advances on her when she went to him at City Hall seeking help dealing with the Department of Veterans Affairs on behalf of a Marine wounded in Iraq.

Shannon's accusations came as Filner faced new problems and demands for his resignation.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer said the council's audit committee will consider requesting an investigation by the city auditor of Filner's use of a city credit card. The San Diego County Taxpayers Assn., citing news reports, said that nearly $1,000 of the mayor's $11,095 worth of charges were for personal items — from pizzas to juicers to expensive lunches.

Meanwhile, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), House minority leader, said Thursday that with Filner "now out of rehab, he should be out of the mayor's office" and should not "subject San Diegans to the pain and expense of a recall."

Filner, 70, a Democrat, is said to be taking "personal time" after completing a behavioral therapy program. He has admitted to treating women with disrespect but denied any sexual harassment. He has rejected demands by all nine City Council members and others to resign.

Shannon said Filner's misconduct began soon after he became mayor and continued each time he would see her at her desk.

Shannon has filed an employment complaint with the city, asking for an apology from Filner. She said that on more than one occasion, she went home and cried about Filner's behavior.

"Mayor Filner, I want to protect working women," Shannon said. "It is long overdue for you to do the right thing, and the right thing is for you to go."

tony.perry@latimes.com

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