Embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner (D) announced Friday that he plans to take a leave of absence to seek therapy as he faces increasing pressure to resign in the face of a string of sexual harassment allegations.
“Let me be absolutely clear — the behavior I have engaged in over many years is wrong,” Filner said. “My failure to respect women and the intimidating conduct I engage in at times is inexcusable. It has undermined what I have spent my whole life working for.”
Filner said he will be at the clinic full time beginning Aug. 5 but will receive morning and evening briefings on the state of the city. He plans to return to work on Aug. 19.
Filner said the therapy was only the “first step” in addressing his problem, and that he “must become a better person” before putting himself in a position to one day ask for forgiveness.
In the middle of his statement, the podium Filner stood at lost audio capabilities, leading to an awkward few minutes of him standing in front of reporters as technicians worked to fix the problem. Filner exited the room and later returned to give the statement again.
Filner has been accused of sexual harassment by three women, and a court has ordered that Filner not be alone with a woman while on public grounds. He has apologized, saying he didn’t “fully respect the women who work for me and with me” but denies that he’s guilty of sexual harassment and says he won’t resign.
Filner’s announcement came shortly after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) issued a blistering statement calling for him to resign.
“The misconduct Mayor Bob Filner has been accused of is reprehensible and indefensible,” Wasserman Schultz said. “I am personally offended by his actions, and I firmly believe no employee should face a hostile environment or harassment at their place of employment. There is no place for this type of conduct in the workplace and certainly not in our city halls and public offices.”
“For the good of the City of San Diego, I call on Mayor Filner to resign,” she concluded.
The Democratic National Committee chairwoman is the latest high-level Washington Democrat to weigh in on the Filner scandal. On Thursday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called Filner’s behavior, and that of New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), “reprehensible.”
"It is so disrespectful of women, and what's really stunning about it is they don't even realize. They don't have a clue,” Pelosi said at a press conference. “If they're clueless, get a clue. If they need therapy, do it in private.”
Both Weiner and Filner served in the House of Representatives with Wasserman Schultz when Pelosi was Speaker.
—This report was originally published at 1:58 p.m. and last updated at 3:26 p.m.