San Diego mayor scandal: Filner taking leave of absence


The mayor apologized to his staff, San Diego citizens and to the women he allegedly harassed, and said his leave of absence for "intensive therapy" begins on Aug. 5.

"Words alone are not enough. I am responsible for my conduct, and I must take responsibility for my conduct so that such conduct does not ever happen again," Filner said during a news conference.

He is not, however, resigning despite growing calls for him to step down, including from the San Diego County Democratic Party. During his leave of absence, Filner said he will be briefed on city activities.

The San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee voted 34-6 Thursday night to urge the city's first Democratic leader in 20 years to quit. A week before, the committee had deadlocked 24-24 on the question, but that vote was before any woman had publicly identified herself.

"We are not here to determine guilt or innocence. However, in the best interest of the city, the San Diego County Democratic Party has voted to ask Mayor Filner to step down, seek the personal help that he needs, and allow San Diego to move forward," said Francine Busby, the county party chairwoman.

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman, also joined the calls for Filner to resigns, calling Filner's alleged misconduct "reprehensible and indefensible."

Filner's latest accusers include a retired Navy rear admiral, a San Diego State University dean, the head of the San Diego Ports Tenants Association and a businesswoman, bringing the number of accusers to seven.

Veronica "Ronne" Froman, a retired rear admiral and chief operating officer under Filner's predecessor, said Filner once blocked a doorway after others left a meeting, ran his finger up her cheek and asked if she had a man in her life.

Sharon Bernie-Cloward, president of the San Diego Port Tenants Association, said Filner groped her on her backside at an event last year during the mayoral campaign.

The latest poll shows 70 percent of San Diego residents want Filner to step down -- up 10 points from 60 percent two weeks ago. Filner is less than eight months into a four-year term.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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