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Dogged by sex scandal, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner enters counseling

Has refused to resign

CNN News Wire | 8/5/2013, 1:55 p.m.
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — This is the day San Diego Mayor Bob Filner enters a behavior counseling clinic for two ...
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — This is the day San Diego Mayor Bob Filner enters a behavior counseling clinic for two weeks of what he describes as intensive therapy.

The 70-year-old is battling a tide of sexual harrassment allegations, and is hoping that voluntarily subjecting himself to the counseling will quell the mounting calls for his resignation.

He has repeatedly said he’ll not leave the office he was elected to barely eight months ago.

San Diego’s city charter does not require him to appoint an interim mayor during his temporary absence.

His decision is unlikely to appease his opponents.

A 10th accuser

Over the weekend, another woman accused the mayor of unwanted sexual advances — making her the 10th woman making such allegations.

Renee Estill-Sombright told CNN affiliate KGTV that the mayor called her “beautiful” at a church breakfast in June, said he couldn’t take his eyes off her, asked if she was married, and then said he’d like to take her out some time.

The reported comments caught her off guard, Estill-Sombright said.

“I said, ‘Oh, thank you,’” she said. “I kind of felt weird.”

CNN has made multiple efforts to contact Filner and his representatives on the latest allegations but has not gotten a response.

‘I need help’

Earlier this summer, when the allegations first began, Filner acknowledged “I need help,” and added, “I’m clearly doing something wrong.”

“I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them. It’s a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong,” he said in a statement issued July 11.

But Filner has also said he believes he will be vindicated by “a full presentation of the facts” and he will not resign.

In late July, Filner said he planned to begin counseling Monday.

In a statement given at City Hall, he apologized “to the women I have offended.”

“The behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong. My failure to respect women and the intimidating conduct I engaged in at times is inexcusable,” he said.

Battling a lawsuit

Filner’s former spokeswoman, Irene McCormack Jackson, and nine other women have accused Filner of sexual harassment. Up to this point, Jackson is the only accuser to file a sexual harassment suit against Filner.

He asked the city to pay for his legal fees; the city council voted against that.

Jackson said Filner subjected her and other women to “crude and disgusting” comments and inappropriate touching. She said she resigned as Filner’s communications director in June after deciding the mayor would not change his behavior.

None of the other women leveling claims of sexual harassment against Filner came forward until Jackson filed her suit in state court.

CNN’s Ashley Fantz and Chuck Johnston contributed to this report.

Ed Payne | CNN