Filner's ex-communications director questioned

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Associated Press

Posted on August 5, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Updated Monday, Aug 5 at 6:31 PM

SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego County Sheriff's investigators on Monday questioned Bob Filner's former communication director about allegations she made in her sexual harassment lawsuit, her lawyer said.

Attorney Gloria Allred said she and her client, Irene McCormack Jackson, spent almost two hours with investigators, who requested the meeting at the California attorney general's office in downtown San Diego.

McCormack, as she is known professionally, is among 10 women who have publicly accused Filner of making unwanted advances.

Allred declined to reveal details about their discussion, and sheriff's department officials could not be reached for comment after the meeting.

The sheriff's department last month opened a hotline for people to report any possible misconduct by the mayor.

Filner welcomed the decision, saying he would rather see the allegations addressed by an investigative authority than solely aired in the media.

The mayor started a two-week intensive program of behavioral therapy Monday as pressure continued to mount by members within the former congressman's own party calling for him to resign.

The speaker of the California Assembly on Monday added his voice to the chorus of federal and local elected officials who want Filner to step down.

Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez of Los Angeles told reporters that Filner's resignation would be a faster and more favorable resolution than a recall election.

"It is clear that he is now incapacitated through this scandal of being able to run the city," Perez said. "Every couple of days, a new woman comes forward expressing the experiences that she's had."

He also criticized Filner's attorney, who said the city should cover his legal costs because the first-term Democratic mayor was not given sexual harassment training.

"You see some of the allegations going back as far as eight years," he said. "This is not a new set of circumstances. It is just new knowledge about a long, ongoing set of interactions that are offensive, and I believe if all the allegations are correct, illegal. So I can't for the life of me figure out why the mayor has not stepped down."

Filner is set to be grilled by lawyers under oath Friday in the harassment lawsuit filed by McCormack that claims he asked her to work without panties, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her around in a headlock while whispering in her ear.

On Monday, the city attorney's office released notes from Filner's chief of staff, Lee Burdick, who was given an ultimatum by the city attorney to hand them over or face a lawsuit.

Burdick had been withholding documents sought by a television reporter under the California Public Records Act by citing attorney-client privilege, according to an Aug. 1 memo from Goldsmith's office obtained by U-T Watchdog.

In the notes dated June 20, a person with McCormack's initials is said to leave a meeting with the mayor and city employees. The notes put in quote marks: "Guess you think it would be better if I didn't have my panties on."

And the mayor is quoted as saying "What?!!" followed by the word "perplexed" in parenthesis.

Officials from the city attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment on the notes.

In the lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court, McCormack says she resigned after a heated exchange between the mayor and Allen Jones, his deputy chief of staff, at a meeting that she attended.

Jones told his boss that he needed "extreme therapy" and accused him of treating women in a horrible manner before quitting.

McCormack agreed that the mayor was "horrible" and began to leave the meeting before Filner challenged her to give an example.

"How about when you said that I should take my panties off and work without them," she replied, according to the lawsuit, which also names the city as a defendant and seeks unspecified damages.

Filner has rejected the claims in a brief statement, saying "I do not believe these claims are valid. That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail."

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