Irene McCormack Jackson, the mayor's former director of communications and plaintiff in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the City Of San Diego and its mayor Bob Filner, during a press conference in San Diego, California. Reuters
San Diego's mayor is coming under growing pressure to resign after a former senior aide announced a lawsuit Monday alleging he sexually harassed her, the latest in string of claims.
Bob Filner, who has apologized and admitted he needs help, said he was disappointed at the announcement by his former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson, the first woman to go public with accusations against him.
Gloria Allred, a lawyer known for taking on high-profile women's rights cases, said that after taking the job in January, "Irene soon learned that ... in order to do her job ... she would have to endure the 'Filner headlock' while he made degrading and humiliating sexual comments to her.
"She also learned that her job required her to suffer Mayor Filner telling her that she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked, that he could not wait to consummate their relationship, and that he wanted to marry her," Allred added.
McCormack, a former journalist, said: "The past six months turned out to be the worst time of my entire working life .. I had to work and do my job in an atmosphere where women were viewed by Mayor Filner as sexual objects or stupid idiots. I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women."
Responding to the lawsuit announcement, Filner said he was "saddened by the charges that were leveled against me today."
"I humbly ask that through this vicious storm of controversy, people take a moment and temper their rush to judgment... I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail," he said.
Allegations against Filner, who took office in December, first surfaced earlier this month, triggering him to issue a statement on July 11 apologizing, and vowing: "I have reached into my heart and soul and realized I must and will change my behavior.
"As someone who has spent a lifetime fighting for equality for all people, 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."
He continued: "I am also humbled to admit that I need help. I have begun to work with professionals to make changes in my behavior and approach... f my behavior doesn't change, I cannot succeed in leading our city," he said.
Allred said Filner's assertion that "I need help" was not sufficient, adding that he had to stop "treating women as pieces of meat."