The daily drumbeat this week of women publicly accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has shown that his alleged sexual misconduct knows no bounds.

Thursday evening, four of the most powerful and accomplished women in the region each told KPBS stories of Filner’s sexually crude behavior toward them in numerous incidents going back years. The quartet included San Diego’s former Navy mayor and a dean at San Diego State University.

“I was really rattled,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Ronne Froman after alleging that Filner ran his finger up her cheek and asked her if she was single following a meeting in his congressional office a couple years ago. “I got in the car with the two guys I was working with and I told them never to leave me alone in a room with Bob Filner again.”

The allegations give a sense of ubiquity about Filner’s alleged behavior: No matter how powerful or low-ranking you are, if you come into contact with the mayor for any reason you’re at risk of him harassing you.

The four women added themselves to a list that includes Filner’s former spokeswoman, his former deputy campaign manager and a constituent looking for his help. And that’s just the group that’s gone public.

None of the women’s stories from Thursday covered new ground in terms of what Filner’s alleged to have done. They said he tried to kiss or grope them and made other unwanted advances along the lines of what others have said. What was different about Thursday’s revelation were the positions of the people coming forward.


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Joyce Gattas, the dean of SDSU’s school of professional studies and fine arts, told KPBS that Filner often held her too tightly, inappropriately kissed her cheek and left his hand on her knee too long in a series of incidents. Gattas helped establish the university’s sexual harassment policy.

“Somehow when we establish the policy, the laws, we think our job is done,” Gattas said. “What happens is we don’t keep ever vigilant on making sure that we’re implementing those laws and those policies. What happens is we fall into this code of silence because there still is the fear of retribution.”

Meanwhile, Filner’s attempts to turn the page on all this look more ludicrous by the day. At a morning event downtown, he said he’d “like the city to take a deep breath.” At a second event in Barrio Logan Thursday, a crush of reporters chased Filner around as he refused to comment, as mariachi music played in the background.

Filner eventually repeated his line about wanting “due process” as the allegations play out.

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    This article relates to: Bob Filner, Government, News, Share

    Written by Liam Dillon

    Liam Dillon is senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He leads VOSD’s investigations and writes about how regular people interact with local government. What should he write about next? Please contact him directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663.

    32 comments
    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton

    I worked in a predominantly male environment for many years (Navy, defense industry). I was harassed on a regular basis by seniors and colleagues, and I had to handle it because there was no future in complaining. I ran into similar situations, men I worked with who weren't in my organization and one who was something like what is described here. While I thought it was bad behavior, I didn't consider that harassment because while they were powerful people, they were just coming on to me. They showed no intent of damaging me and they weren't in my organization. While this behavior is foolish and unprofessional, these are powerful women who can say no. I worry more about women who in subordinate positions, and it is shocking if many women were subjected to these advances and none of them took action. Staff reports of being harassed are much more worrying. I never saw that kind of over the top behavior within an organization (though it no doubt happens). The overall picture is that the mayor is behaving outside social norms and even with a lifetime of feedback about it (which he surely received!) still didn't get it.

    Janet Shelton
    Janet Shelton subscriber

    I worked in a predominantly male environment for many years (Navy, defense industry). I was harassed on a regular basis by seniors and colleagues, and I had to handle it because there was no future in complaining. I ran into similar situations, men I worked with who weren't in my organization and one who was something like what is described here. While I thought it was bad behavior, I didn't consider that harassment because while they were powerful people, they were just coming on to me. They showed no intent of damaging me and they weren't in my organization. While this behavior is foolish and unprofessional, these are powerful women who can say no. I worry more about women who in subordinate positions, and it is shocking if many women were subjected to these advances and none of them took action. Staff reports of being harassed are much more worrying. I never saw that kind of over the top behavior within an organization (though it no doubt happens). The overall picture is that the mayor is behaving outside social norms and even with a lifetime of feedback about it (which he surely received!) still didn't get it.

    gil brown
    gil brown

    It's a little insulting...four of San Diego's most powerful woman pretending they were "so intimidated and emotionally upset" by Bob's clumsy inappropriate advances that they didn't know what to do... until now. But I do believe they haven't had much experience with someone making any kind of advances toward them.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin

    The timing of these "four of the most powerful and accomplished women in the region" is suspect. The information would of been useful.....Like yesterday. Very suspect at this juncture or are they simply piling on. Say what you will but this is by no means "leadership". Hang tough Bob.

    Mark Giffin
    Mark Giffin subscribermember

    The timing of these "four of the most powerful and accomplished women in the region" is suspect. The information would of been useful.....Like yesterday. Very suspect at this juncture or are they simply piling on. Say what you will but this is by no means "leadership". Hang tough Bob.

    Bill Smith
    Bill Smith

    Most women are not suited to work in politics, government or business, it is a rough and tumble world out there. But some women are capable, if Filner was to reach out to touch one of these strong women he would pull back a bloody stump with his hand and fingers missing. I am so sick and tired of listening to girls complaining about being patted on the ass and having sweet nothings whispered into their ears, grow up and start acting like adults. In the mean time, please just shut up!

    Mary Frances Prevost
    Mary Frances Prevost

    I wonder if all the women demanding his resignation would also demand the resignation of Jan Goldsmith if they knew he lobbied the City Council for $500,000 to hire 2 law firms to defend city and convicted sexual offender ex-cop Arevalos against the last 2 of Arevalos' sexual assault victims? Ironic?

    Richard Gorin
    Richard Gorin subscriber

    When a police officer does something questionable, he is placed on administrative leave until an investigation determines whether he was acting within the scope of his authority or not. Due process requires that the Mayor do likewise.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Actually most times the incident is swept under the rug and ignored, like it has been in this case for decades. If there is an investigation it is usually kept quiet and kept sealed. Unless, like what I believe is happening in this case an ulterior motive makes it expedient to make the issue public. BTW, cops were present guarding Filner during some of these incidents, they couldn't have been that bad if the cops did nothing, could they?

    Richard Gorin
    Richard Gorin

    When a police officer does something questionable, he is placed on administrative leave until an investigation determines whether he was acting within the scope of his authority or not. Due process requires that the Mayor do likewise.

    Justice
    Justice

    Um, no. They almost never put them on admin leave. And Internal Affairs 99 percent of the time exxonnerates them. Get a clue.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Actually most times the incident is swept under the rug and ignored, like it has been in this case for decades. If there is an investigation it is usually kept quiet and kept sealed. Unless, like what I believe is happening in this case an ulterior motive makes it expedient to make the issue public. BTW, cops were present guarding Filner during some of these incidents, they couldn't have been that bad if the cops did nothing, could they?

    Kevin Swanson
    Kevin Swanson

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton and others have all held office with harassment allegations based on past behavior. Sadly the media prefers to focus its resources on old news instead of investigating new and developing stories. What is happening with bringing new business to San Diego? Why did San Diego not bring the State Games here in 2015 instead of Lincoln, NE having them? Where are jobs being created? How are businesses and agencies cooperating to build a better future for the Region? Enough about Filner! Let us hear about some real news!

    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones

    Yeah...the 2015 State Games in Lincoln, NE dwarf the mayoral scandal. Perhaps you can land the 2016 games for your home planet. Let us know how it goes, okay?

    Kevin Swanson
    Kevin Swanson subscriber

    Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bill Clinton and others have all held office with harassment allegations based on past behavior. Sadly the media prefers to focus its resources on old news instead of investigating new and developing stories. What is happening with bringing new business to San Diego? Why did San Diego not bring the State Games here in 2015 instead of Lincoln, NE having them? Where are jobs being created? How are businesses and agencies cooperating to build a better future for the Region? Enough about Filner! Let us hear about some real news!

    Joe Jones
    Joe Jones subscriber

    Yeah...the 2015 State Games in Lincoln, NE dwarf the mayoral scandal. Perhaps you can land the 2016 games for your home planet. Let us know how it goes, okay?

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Crude sexual advances, unwelcome but not necessarily harassment, Bob needs to fight this. Having a labido and liking women is no crime, even today! Due process! Lets not lynch Bob just because he loves women a little too much, was raised during the sexual revelution and has a huggers DNA!. This is about cultural diversity and acceptance of all people!

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen

    There is a time and a place for everything Jim, but groping and crude remarks when conducting business is never OK. Guys can be clumsy, and I'm as guilty as the next guy on that, but Filner's behavior is never OK. That's not diversity, that's just being an ass.

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen

    Really? It's just a matter of him having a libido? If that's the case then all men have carte blanche to grope any woman, any time he wants. Having a libido is one thing, acting like a predator is quite another. Filner had no right to act like he did. He's an embarrassment as a man

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones

    Robert, all men have the right to come on to a women, no matter how clumsily. Just because you are culturally insensitive to Filner's particular societal system doesn't give you the right to ridicule it! Where is your belief in diversity? I'm more concerned that a high ranking Naval Officer would be so affected by such a minor pass. What would her composure turn to in a real crisis? And we trust our young sailor's lives to an officer this high strung and easily nonplussed? That seems to be the real crime here.

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Crude sexual advances, unwelcome but not necessarily harassment, Bob needs to fight this. Having a labido and liking women is no crime, even today! Due process! Lets not lynch Bob just because he loves women a little too much, was raised during the sexual revelution and has a huggers DNA!. This is about cultural diversity and acceptance of all people!

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen subscriber

    Really? It's just a matter of him having a libido? If that's the case then all men have carte blanche to grope any woman, any time he wants. Having a libido is one thing, acting like a predator is quite another. Filner had no right to act like he did. He's an embarrassment as a man

    Jim Jones
    Jim Jones subscriber

    Robert, all men have the right to come on to a women, no matter how clumsily. Just because you are culturally insensitive to Filner's particular societal system doesn't give you the right to ridicule it! Where is your belief in diversity? I'm more concerned that a high ranking Naval Officer would be so affected by such a minor pass. What would her composure turn to in a real crisis? And we trust our young sailor's lives to an officer this high strung and easily nonplussed? That seems to be the real crime here.

    Robert Cohen
    Robert Cohen subscriber

    There is a time and a place for everything Jim, but groping and crude remarks when conducting business is never OK. Guys can be clumsy, and I'm as guilty as the next guy on that, but Filner's behavior is never OK. That's not diversity, that's just being an ass.

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant

    Of course as Filner would say, these claims are "not valid." Obviously these are all scorned lovers on a witch hunt

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant subscriber

    Of course as Filner would say, these claims are "not valid." Obviously these are all scorned lovers on a witch hunt

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant

    CONSPIRACY! DUE PROCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Joshua Brant
    Joshua Brant subscriber

    CONSPIRACY! DUE PROCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    William Hamilton
    William Hamilton

    If Mayor Filner doesn't resign soon, he will take the Democratic Party, and all the gains it has made over the last year, down with him...

    William Hamilton
    William Hamilton subscriber

    If Mayor Filner doesn't resign soon, he will take the Democratic Party, and all the gains it has made over the last year, down with him...

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill

    I await the "Due Process" crowd, which may be shrinking.

    Allen Hemphill
    Allen Hemphill subscribermember

    I await the "Due Process" crowd, which may be shrinking.