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Third woman accuses San Diego Mayor Filner of sexual misconduct

July 24, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has been accused of sexual harassment by a third woman.
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has been accused of sexual harassment by a third… (Associated Press )

SAN DIEGO -- A third woman has gone public with allegations that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner made unwanted sexual advances.

Morgan Rose, a school psychologist, said that Filner, then a member of Congress, tried to kiss her during a restaurant meeting in 2009.

She told KPBS, the public radio and television station, that she had asked for the meeting to seek Filner's support for a program promoting child welfare.

Rose said that Filner told her, "'Your eyes have bewitched me" and then moved next to her in a booth and tried to kiss her.

"I started to ask him, 'What would your wife say if she was sitting here?' and he just laughed this really odd laugh as if that was the craziest thing he had ever heard," Rose told the station in an interview Wednesday.

She said that Filner tried to kiss her four times. He only stopped when he received a cellphone call and told her that he needed to return to his office, she said.

Rose's assertions came in the same week that a former top aide to the 70-year-old Democrat filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him, and a former campaign worker, in interviews, accused him of patting her buttocks in 2005.

Filner has rejected repeated calls for him to resign amid the allegations of sexually harassing staff members and constituents. He has admitted treating women badly but said he does not believe he has committed sexual harassment.

The National Women's Veterans Assn. of America on Wednesday withdrew its invitation to have Filner speak at his convention in San Diego next month. The group cited the lawsuit filed against Filner by his former director of communications, Irene McCormack Jackson.

And in yet another sign of turmoil in the mayor's office, Filner announced Wednesday that the chief of staff named just 10 days ago to provide stability has departed and been replaced.

Tony Buckles, who was Filner's chief of staff in Washington for 13 years, has left, with no explanation for the abrupt departure.

Buckles has been replaced by Lee Burdick, who had been the deputy chief of staff and, before that, the mayor's director of legal affairs.

"I respect her and intend to rely heavily on her leadership in this new role," Filner said in a statement emailed to reporters.

After the sexual harassment controversy became public two weeks ago, Filner brought in Walt Ekard, a retired chief administrative officer for the county government, to serve as interim chief operating officer.

Ekard has assumed duties that Filner had previously undertaken, including dealing with staff and department directors.

The staff changes have not changed the views of the majority of City Council members who insist that Filner should resign. Six of nine members have stated that he is now an impediment to good government.

"It’s clear that it doesn't matter how many staff changes Bob Filner makes -- it's Filner who's the problem and it's Filner who must go," said Councilman Kevin Faulconer, the senior Republican on the council.

The San Diego County Democratic Central Committee, which last week opted not to join several prominent Democrats in calling for Filner's resignation, has announced plans for a Thursday meeting to discuss the issue again, this time in light of the Jackson lawsuit.

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