Ex-San Diego mayor pleads guilty to all three charges
SAN DIEGO (CNN) — Former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony false imprisonment and two misdemeanor battery charges for his behavior against three women.
Filner entered the pleas as a part of an agreement with prosecutors. The felony charge accuses Filner of “false imprisonment by violence, fraud, menace and deceit.”
That charge says Filner used force to restrain a woman at a fundraising event on March 6, a prosecutor said in court Tuesday.
One of the misdemeanor battery charges says he kissed a woman on the lips without her consent in San Diego City Hall last April 6. The other misdemeanor battery charge says he grabbed a woman’s buttock at a rally last May 25 after she asked to have her picture taken with him.
The victims were identified as Jane Does 1, 2 and 3. Filner will be sentenced on December 9, and he has a plea agreement with prosecutors.
Under the agreement, Filner would be confined to his home for three months and would serve probation for three years, during which he would undergo treatment directed by a mental health professional, said the California attorney general’s office, which assisted in the investigation. If Filner violates his probation, he could face up to six months in jail.
Under the plea deal, Filner would also have to surrender any mayoral pension benefits he accrued since the date of the first offense, March 6, until he resigned in August, the attorney general’s office said.
Filner was elected mayor last November after serving as a congressman for 20 years. He resigned after a total of 19 women this year accused him of offensive behavior during his tenure as mayor and as a congressman.
Under the agreement, Filner also would be prohibited from ever seeking or holding public office again, the attorney general’s office said. Filner also would not be able to vote, serve on a jury or own a firearm while on probation.
Fines, court fees and restitution will be determined at his December sentencing.
“This conduct was not only criminal, it was also an extreme abuse of power,” said California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris. “This prosecution is about consequence and accountability. No one is above the law.”
Filner and Harris are Democrats.
A prosecutor told the judge that the plea agreement strives for “a right balance between justice and closure.”
Filner, also a former 10-term Democratic congressman, resigned from the mayor’s post in August after at least 19 women came forward publicly to accuse him of inappropriate behavior during his time as a congressman and, since 2012, as a mayor.
The one-by-one emergence of the women accusing Filner of sexual harassment or other misconduct became a daily scandal for weeks that withered his political standing.
Numerous public officials, including all nine City Council members and the state’s two U.S. senators, urged him to step down. So, too, did a majority of locals, according to polls.
After the City Council voted 7-0 to accept his resignation, Filner spoke at a council meeting and offered a “deep apology … to all the citizens.”
“The city should not have been put through this,” the 70-year-old mayor said. “And my own personal failures were responsible.”
A short time later, though, Filner went on the defensive, even alleging that his ouster was “a political coup.” While admitting that his behavior toward women was inappropriate at times, he insisted that he “never sexually harassed anyone.”
In the process of “trying to establish personal relationships,” the mayor explained, “the combination of awkwardness and hubris, I think, led to behavior that many found offensive.” He added, “Not one allegation … has ever been independently verified or proven in court.”
“But the hysteria that has been created … is the hysteria of a lynch mob,” Filner said, criticizing an environment in which “rumors become allegations, allegations become facts, facts become evidence of sexual harassment which have led to demands for my resignation and recall.”
Blasting politicians and members of the media who “unleashed a monster,” the mayor said, “The hysteria ended up playing into the hands of those who wanted a political coup — the removal of a democratically elected mayor purely by rumor and innuendo.”