San Diego mayor accuser comes forward

ELLIOT SPAGAT, Associated Press
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Bob Filner, San Diego Mayor. (AP Photo)

Bob Filner, San Diego Mayor. (AP Photo)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Mayor Bob Filner’s former communications director has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the leader of the nation’s eighth-largest city.

Irene McCormack came forward Monday and said Filner had asked her to work without wearing panties, demanded kisses and dragged her around in a headlock while whispering sexual advances.

McCormack, who demanded Filner’s immediate resignation, said she resigned in June at a staff meeting after a deputy chief of staff complained to the mayor that his behavior toward women was wrong and possibly illegal.

Lena Lewis, a spokeswoman for Filner, did not immediately reply to a phone call or email seeking comment.

McCormack is the first alleged victim to reveal her identity. On July 10, prominent former supporters claimed Filner sexually harassed more than one woman and urged him to resign. McCormack is represented by prominent attorney Gloria Allred.

Filner previously apologized for disrespecting and sometimes intimidating women in an extraordinary video released immediately after the initial allegations surfaced. He said, “I need help,” and that he would be unable to lead San Diego if his behavior didn’t change.

Filner has stopped short of explicitly saying he sexually harassed women and signaled he would refuse to step aside.

On Friday, Filner welcomed the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s decision to open a hotline to take calls from any possible victims of his misconduct, saying “some of these allegations will finally be addressed by an appropriate investigative authority rather than by press conference and innuendo.”

The San Diego County district attorney’s office said it would not be part of the Sheriff’s Department investigation and that the California attorney general’s office would review the findings to determine whether the mayor should be prosecuted.

District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis finished fourth in last year’s mayoral primary and supported a Filner rival in the general election, saying then that Filner mistreated women.

Filner faces lurid accusations of sexual misconduct, though no one had publicly identified herself as a victim until Monday.

Last week, former supporters said Filner jammed his tongue down a campaign volunteer’s throat on a public sidewalk and groped her in her car. Another constituent who attended a mayoral event at City Hall said Filner took her to an enclosed area, dismissed a staff member, asked her on a date and kissed her. An employee who worked for the mayor for six months complained that Filner grabbed her buttocks and touched her chest.

McCormack’s full name is Irene McCormack Jackson but she is known professionally by the McCormack name.

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