San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has rejected charges of sexual harassment yesterday, claiming that really, he’s just “a hugger.”
Filner, a 70-year-old former Democratic congressman, has been repeatedly accused of inappropriately touching and forcing himself upon female constituents and staff members. His lecherous behavior has led to calls for his resignation, which Filner continues to refuse.
“I’m a hugger, with both men and women” Filner said during an interview with a San Diego radio station, “if it turns out that…those are taken in an offensive manner, I need to have a greater sense of awareness of what I am doing.”
Former Councilwoman Donna Frye came forward to recount the experiences of anonymous female staff members who had been subject to Filner’s come-ons. She described the various cases of abuse as “not normal,” and said Filner “is tragically unsafe for any woman to approach.”
Frye read the statements of two separate female constituents who reportedly experienced Filner’s inappropriate advances.
The first woman was called into Filner’s office privately. Even though she told the mayor she was engaged, Filner forcibly kissed her. The constituent pushed him away and fled the room, according to a statement.
The second woman claimed that Filner grabbed her on the streets and pushed his tongue down her mouth. Later on, in a car, he forced “his hand inside her bra and was again trying to put his tongue down her throat,” according to Frye.
Filner represented California’s 50th and 51st districts through five congressional terms before becoming mayor of America’s Finest City in a runoff election last year. These are not the first times the mayor has allegedly let his inner pervert out to play. San Diego city hall workers have apparently becomes pros at “the Filner Dance,” a little bob they use to avoid the boss’s greedy paws.
The 70-year old mayor also allegedly once told a female staffer she would do a better job “without your panties on.”
Filner apologized for is behavior on Thursday after Frye went public with the allegations. He said that he deserves a fair investigative trial and believes that his interactions with women have been misunderstood.
“Everybody, including me, is entitled to due process, to a fair and impartial investigation.” Filner said, “The facts will be determined in that process. I will obviously cooperate fully. I think I’ll be vindicated at the end…” Filner said.