San Diego Mayor Bob Filner to seek therapy amid harassment claims

Bob Filner: "'I hope to be in the position one day to be forgiven"

The mayor of San Diego, California, has said he will attend "behaviour counselling" amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.

Seven women have now accused Bob Filner, 70, of unwelcome advances, some of them physical.

The local Democratic committee voted by 34-6 on Thursday for the leader of the nation's eighth-largest city to quit.

In a news conference, Mr Filner said his behaviour had been "inexcusable", but did not say he was stepping down.

"I have apologised to my staff, I have apologised to the women I have offended," said the divorced 70-year-old on Friday.

The former congressman went on: "I am responsible for my conduct and I must take responsibility for my conduct by taking actions so that such conduct does not ever happen again.

"So beginning on August fifth I will be entering a behaviour counselling clinic to undergo two weeks of intensive therapy to begin the process of addressing my behaviour."

'Headlocks'

Mr Filner's problems began two weeks ago when Donna Frye, a former councilwoman and onetime supporter, called on him to step down, saying she had evidence that he had harassed women.

He responded with a video apology, calling his behaviour "inappropriate and wrong", declaring: "I need help."

Then on Monday, Mr Filner's former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a lawsuit against him and the city.

She alleged he had asked her to work without underwear, told her he wanted to see her naked and put her in a "headlock" while making unwelcome advances.

On Thursday evening, four prominent San Diegan women went public with their own detailed accusations on a local broadcaster.

Veronica Froman, a retired rear admiral known as San Diego's "navy mayor", said Mr Filner once blocked her from leaving a room, ran his finger up her cheek and asked if she had a man in her life.

The president of the city's port tenants' association, Sharon Bernie-Cloward, said Mr Filner had groped her on her bottom at an event last year.

"I was left there startled and fearful," she was quoted as saying by US media. "In fact, I actually had someone walk me to my car that night."

Patti Roscoe, a businesswoman who knew Mr Filner for decades, said he had placed her in a headlock numerous times, trying to kiss her on the lips.

"I'd have to squirm to get away," she said. "And just as recently as a few months ago this happened. I turned and he just slobbered down my chin."

A vote last week by the San Diego Democratic Party Central Committee for Mr Filner to quit ended in a 24-24 deadlock.

But as very public accusers lined up to point the finger at the mayor, the committee took a firmer stance.

"It speaks to the extent of the problem that the mayor has to address," said Francine Busby, the county party chairwoman.

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