Bob Filner's Lawyer: Sexual Harassment Is San Diego's Fault


Bob Filner, the mayor of San Diego (and conceptual mayor of “sexually harassing, ignorant, deluded, out-of-touch politicianville”) refuses to relinquish his newfound quest to infuriate and sadden any person in the world with the faintest glimmer of awareness about gender politics, what constitutes sexual harassment, professionalism, human decency in general, etc.

Even after several women (as of now, there are eight in total) publicly came forward with vile accounts of his sexual harassment and intimidation, Filner refused to step down. Even after 67 percent of San Diegans expressed desire for his resignation, he was like, “Nah, it’s cool, I will take 2 weeks of therapy and that will reverse decades of my sexist thoughts and actions.” Then he was like, “Also, city of San Diego, will you please pay for my legal fees? Going to court for abusing and disrespecting my female employees has proved to be very expensive.”

That’s a bold move, to say the least. And now, a document obtained by an ABC affiliate shines a bit of light on the motivation: Filner’s attorney, Harvey Berger, wants to blame the City Council for never providing Filner with sexual harassment training. Here are some choice tidbits from the letter, addressed to the City Council, in which Berger tries to rationalize this highly questionable logic:

The City has a legal obligation to provide sexual harassment training to all management level employees, and to provide such training to new manages within six (6) months of hire…the City failed to provide such training to Mayor Filner. In fact, it is my understanding that such training was scheduled, but that the trainer for the city unilaterally cancelled, and never re-scheuled such training for the Mayor… Therefore, if there is any liability at all, the City will almost certainly be liable for “failing to prevent harassment”

Oh, sweet Jesus. From there, things go downhill. There is even a Bob Dylan quote:

While, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, many might argue that “you don’t need a weatherperson to tell you which way the wind blows,” and an adult male should not need sexual harassment training, I would point out that in his decades of public service for the people of San Diego as a U.S. Representative, Mayor Filner never received sexual harassment training. This is not an excuse for any inappropriate behavior which may have occurred, but having conducted sexual harassment training scores of times over the years, I have learned that many – if not most – people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law.

Berger goes on to claim that “virtually all” of the statements by people who have alleged inappropriate acts and behavior by Mayor Filner “refer to acts committed years ago, not while Mayor Filner was in his present role, and such claims would be barred by the statute of limitations.” However, much of Filner’s atrocious behavior was directed at his female employees — and the plaintiff in the lawsuit was his former communications director, who, um, did work with him while he was mayor. Regardless of the timescale, the statements reveal a truly disturbing tendency to use his position to wield power over women with less official power than him.

It shouldn’t take training to realize that groping, attempting to kiss, and making lewd comments to one’s employee is not okay, to put it mildly. Blaming San Diego for his harassing tendencies is patently ridiculous. Filner’s apologies become less convincing with every desperate attempt he makes to shift the blame to an external source. He’s already had to take back his initial excuse, which was that he came from a different era when that sort of thing was great and acceptable and totally not a big deal, ooops! Bob Filner: just take responsibility and go away, please.

This letter was sent on Monday; on Tuesday, the Council unanimously voted against funding Filner’s defense. Looks like they aren’t buying it either.

“Bob Filner’s Lawyer: San Diego is Partially to Blame for Sex Scandal” [Atlantic Wire]
Photo via AP.

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