Last month we discussed the increasing allegations of sexual harassment against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. In the time since that post was published, Filner has agreed to resign from office and apologized to the women who accused him. At the same time, however, he maintains his innocence, claiming he’s the victim of a “lynch mob.”
The motivation for both his resignation and his insistence that he’s done nothing wrong appears to be the city’s promise to pay for his legal defense. City officials have said they are obligated to cover the cost of his defense in the lawsuit filed by Filner’s former communications director, who was the first woman to accuse him in the sexual harassment scandal. San Diego will pay to settle the case, as well as contribute up to $98,000 to the cost of Filner’s attorney, should he choose to seek out his own.
Although most sexual harassment cases are not this public, people who suffer the effects of such behavior still take great risks by going forward with a lawsuit. Even when it’s clear their claims are legitimate, they can face intense scrutiny and adversity by co-workers and other supporters of the person initiating the harassment. In Filner’s case, despite a growing number of women who came forward to report inappropriate conduct, many of his colleagues continued to defend him based on political alliances.
Reporting claims of sexual harassment can seem like a risky prospect, but victims shouldn’t fail to take action due to peer pressure or fear of retaliation. Just as in the case of San Diego’s mayor, a single accuser may quickly find she or he isn’t the only victim, but it often takes one initial voice for others to speak up and be heard.
Source: CBS Los Angeles, “San Diego Mayor Agrees To Resign Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations,” Aug. 23, 2013