Skip to main content

3rd woman accuses San Diego mayor of sexual harassment

By Michael Martinez and Chuck Johnston, CNN
July 24, 2013 -- Updated 2328 GMT (0728 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A woman accuses San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of trying to kiss her four times
  • The incident occurred in a restaurant in 2009 when Filner was a congressman
  • At the time, Morgan Rose was running a nonprofit working with domestic violence
  • Filner couldn't be immediately reached for comment

(CNN) -- A nonprofit group founder became the third person to accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of sexual harassment, telling CNN Wednesday that he tried to kiss her at least four times during a business meeting at a restaurant when he was a congressman.

Filner couldn't be immediately reached for comment. He has recently responded to other accusations of sexual harassment in recent weeks by asserting he will eventually be vindicated, but he acknowledged he needs "help" and has been "clearly doing something wrong."

Morgan Rose met with Filner in April 2009 at a Marie Callender's Restaurant & Bakery across the street from Filner's congressional office in Chula Vista, California, she told CNN.

Rose was lobbying the congressman about her organization, America's Angel Campaign, a group devoted to working with domestic violence in military and other families, she said.

San Diego mayor accused of harassment, again

Why we act on stupid impulses

Filner allegedly looked her up and down, stared into her eyes and said, "Your eyes have bewitched me," Rose said.

Filner allegedly then made a remark along the lines of, according to Rose's paraphrasing, "You'll have to excuse me for what's about to happen. It's your fault," Rose said.

Filner then moved to her side of the booth, sat beside her, pinned her to the wall, and put his arm around her, Rose alleged.

Rose avoided the advances, and Filner was suddenly interrupted by his ringing cell phone, Rose charged.

Filner got up from the booth, gathered his materials and left the restaurant, Rose said.

Rose spoke of the incident to her closest friends and didn't pursue the matter because she feared her nonprofit might somehow suffer, she told CNN.

But when Rose heard of similar accusations against Filner in recent weeks, she called a victim's hotline at the sheriff's department and spoke with a captain.

A spokeswoman for the San Diego County Sheriff's Department couldn't comment on any victim's call to the hotline, which the agency set up on Friday in the wake of the accusations against the mayor. Spokeswoman Jan Caldwell did acknowledge that investigators have received calls into the tip line.

Rose is now working as a San Diego school psychologist, she said. She is also still executive director of the nonprofit.

On Tuesday, political consultant Laura Fink accused Filner of patting her "posterior" while at a fund-raising event in 2005 when she working as the deputy manager of Filner's congressional campaign.

On Wednesday, Fink told CNN that Filner should resign.

The alleged sexual harassment occurred during a fund-raising dinner, and Fink guided Filner from table to table.

One guest told Filner that Fink "had worked her tokus off," Fink said.

"The congressman told me to turn around and patted me on the bum and said, 'Nope, it's still there' and laughed," Fink told CNN.

Fink wrote to Filner's chief of staff and demanded that Filner apologize, she said.

Filner responded, and "he mumbled an apology" and added something "I just did not understand," Fink said.

Fink said she didn't go public with the incident at the time because she was trying to build her political career. But she said she now feels emboldened to tell her story after Filner's former spokeswoman, Irene McCormack Jackson, sued him for sexual harassment Monday.

Jackson said Filner subjected her and other women to "crude and disgusting" comments and inappropriate touching. She said she resigned as Filner's communications director in June after deciding the mayor would not change his behavior.

Filner has been battling allegations of sexual harassment for several weeks, but none of the women leveling those claims came forward before Jackson filed her suit in state court. Her lawyer, Gloria Allred, called on Filner to resign, telling reporters, "Apologies alone will not take care of this injustice."

In a statement issued Monday evening, Filner said he was "saddened" by the accusations, but "I remain committed to the people of San Diego and the work that needs to be done."

"Once due process is allowed to unfold, I am certain there will be a better understanding of this situation," he said, adding, "I humbly ask that through this vicious storm of controversy, people take a moment and temper their rush to judgment."

Filner said last week that he believes he will be vindicated by "a full presentation of the facts." But he has also acknowledged, "I need help," and added, "I'm clearly doing something wrong."

"I am embarrassed to admit that I have failed to fully respect the women who work for me and with me, and that at times I have intimidated them," Filner said in a statement earlier this month. "It's a good thing that behavior that would have been tolerated in the past is being called out in this generation for what it is: inappropriate and wrong."

Filner, 70, served five terms in Congress before being elected mayor in 2012. He has said he will not resign.

Jackson said she decided to resign after Filner's deputy chief of staff resigned in June. Filner "refused to listen to someone he had known for 35 years, and who told him explicitly, during a senior staff meeting, that his behavior with women was terrible and possibly illegal."

Filner "laughed it off," she said. She said Filner challenged her to provide one example of improper behavior; when she brought up his comments about wearing underwear, "he had no comeback," she said.

Read more: Has the road to political redemption gotten shorter?

CNN's Greg Botelho contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT