A nurse and a U.S. Marine claim San Diego Mayor Bob Filner abused his elected office when he asked for a date in exchange for helping a wounded veteran solve a problem with Veterans Affairs.
Vocational nurse Michelle Tyler and U.S. Marine Katherine Ragazzino spoke Tuesday about a meeting with Filner in which the mayor implied that he would help solve Ragazzino’s issue with the VA only if Tyler agreed to attend a public event with him or have dinner with him.
Ragazzino suffered a traumatic brain injury and PTSD while serving in Iraq.
The two women were meeting with Filner as a follow up to a previous meeting with then-Congressman Bob Filner two years ago.
In the mayor’s office, Filner allegedly asked Ragazzino to leave the meeting and then began giving compliments to Tyler.
Tyler described a conversation with Filner where he asked if she were single and then asked her to meet with him on a personal basis.
“It was extremely disturbing to me that he made it very clear that his expectation was that his help for Katherine depended on my willingness to go to dinner with him, spend personal time with him and be seen in public with him, “ Tyler said.
“I felt that his rubbing my arm and telling me help for Katherine was contingent on my going out with him was extremely inappropriate and unacceptable,” Tyler said.
“I was not there looking for a date.”
The women and their attorney Gloria Allred said they have sent a letter to San Diego’s City Attorney Jan Goldsmith asking for an investigation into the mayor’s behavior.
The women will be speaking with San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigators Tuesday afternoon at the state Attorney General’s Office downtown, Allred said.
“I don’t appreciate being used as a bargaining chip to fulfill his sexual desires,” Ragazzino said wiping away tears.
“I hope that Mayor Filner will never have the opportunity or be in the position to do what he did to Michelle or to any other person again,” Ragazzino said.
Allred has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the City of San Diego and Mayor Filner but said Tyler and Ragazzino would not be filing a lawsuit.
Mayor Filner has nearly a dozen accusers to date, but only one – Filner’s former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson - has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.
The San Diego Sheriff's Department and State Attorney General's Office requested a meeting with Allred and McCormack Jackson Monday to determine whether her complaint reaches the level of a criminal act.
McCormack Jackson accuses Mayor Filner of, among other things, grabbing her in the so-called "Filner Headlock," trying to to kiss her and suggesting she might do a better job if she came to work without panties.
McCormack Jackson was questioned on the same day her former boss was scheduled to enter a two-week behavioral therapy treatment center. The mayor's office has not disclosed the location of the center or the behavior or disorder for which the mayor is seeking treatment.
“He can run he can hide if that is what he is doing but the day of judgment the day of justice is coming,” Allred said.
“A resolution is, he needs to resign as soon as possible,” she said.
“I don't know if he'll be there or not to put it in plain English,” Allred said.
She said the deposition may be continued. If not, Filner will have to either give a sworn statement or plead the Fifth.
Allred then sent the complaint to the San Diego City Attorney so he could further investigate.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith sent a copy of Tyler’s complaint to the U.S. Attorney's office for its consideration.
Goldsmith said Allred worded the complaint to sound like Mayor Bob Filner was offering his political influence for sex.
Goldsmith said it will be part of the investigation but it could possibly amount to state or federal charges. He said it could be a violation of the Hobbs Act, which is often used by federal prosecutors to convict politicians that use their office to gain favors or gifts.
“You take an oath of office there are federal and state laws that say you cannot have a quid pro quo,” said Goldsmith.
Nine other women have come forward alleging the mayor made unwanted sexual advances. Among the Filner accusers are a university dean, a school psychologist, a retired Navy admiral and a community college administrator.