Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner defiantly rejected calls for his resignation after former supporters came forward with lurid allegations that he repeatedly groped and forced himself on women.
A former councilwoman called Filner “tragically unsafe for any woman to approach.”
The new details fueled the controversy that has rocked California’s second-largest city. Former supporters described Filner as a chronic harasser.
Two attorneys said Filner’s inappropriate behavior was so common at City Hall that employees had coined the term “The Filner Dance” to describe how workers dodge his sexual advances.
Yet Filner refused pleas to resign.
In an interview with San Diego station KUSI, he said he was entitled to a fair investigation.
Further, he said: “I’m a hugger, with both men and women and 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, who first went public with the accusations last week, claims his behavior went well beyond hugging.
She did not give specifics until Monday, when she read statements to the media from two alleged constituents, who were not named.
Both say the mayor — who was engaged at the time — tried to forcibly kiss them during separate encounters.
Frye read the statements from women she called constituents No. 1 and No. 2.
The first constituent said the mayor asked his staffer to leave the room and then asked her if she was single.
She said she told Filner that he had a beautiful fiancee and that the mayor responded that he wanted to go out with her and kiss her. Filner then grabbed her and kissed her before she was able to push him away and leave the room, according to the statement.
In a statement from constituent No. 2, Filner allegedly made sexual overtures before grabbing her on the street to kiss her.
According to Fox 5 San Diego, the second woman claims Filner grabbed her and tried to force his tongue in her mouth. Later in the car, he allegedly put “his hand on the inside of her bra and was again trying to put his tongue down her throat,” Frye said.
Filner apologized for his behavior Thursday after Frye first went public with the allegations.
The mayor said he failed to respect women who work for him and he intimidated them at times. Without going into details, the 70-year-old former U.S. congressman called his behavior wrong and said he needed help. He pleaded with voters for patience.
“I’m not going to resign, and here’s why,” Filner said in a statement Monday. “As your elected mayor, I fully expect to be accountable to the citizens of San Diego for all of my actions. But as a citizen of this country, I also expect — and am entitled to — due process, and the opportunity to respond in a fair and impartial venue to specific allegations. I do not believe I am guilty of sexual harassment, and I believe a full presentation of the facts will vindicate me.”