San Diego Mayor's Ex-Staffer Details Alleged Sexual Harassment: "Worst Time of My Entire Working Life"

Former communications director for the mayor thought she could "tough it out." Mayor says he's "saddened" by allegations and does not believe they are "valid."

By R. Stickney
|  Tuesday, Jul 23, 2013  |  Updated 8:02 AM PDT
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Irene McCormack Jackson, former communication director for Mayor Bob Filner, explains why she's filing a lawsuit against the mayor and the city for sexual harassment.

Irene McCormack Jackson, former communication director for Mayor Bob Filner, explains why she's filing a lawsuit against the mayor and the city for sexual harassment.

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Mayor Filner Avoids Questions

Mayor Bob Filner was in City Heights Saturday for a designation ceremony. Obviously there are some tough questions that he hasn't asnwered on allegations of sexual harassment. NBC7's Lea Sutton reports on what happened when she tried to ask those questions.
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A former employee of San Diego’s mayor stepped forward Monday claiming she was forced to resign after she said the mayor treated women as "sexual objects or stupid idiots."

Special Section: Mayor Under Fire

“The past six months turned out to be the worst time of my entire working life,” said Irene McCormack Jackson, former communication director for Mayor Bob Filner.

McCormack Jackson had worked as a journalist and as a manager with the Port of San Diego before she accepted the position on the mayor’s staff.

Among the allegations: that Mayor Filner told her to work without panties.

She also claims the mayor said he wanted to see her naked and couldn't wait to consummate their relationship even though they had only a working relationship.

“He thought it was acceptable behavior to regularly make sexual comments that were crude and disgusting,” McCormack Jackson said.

She claims that Allen Jones resigned as deputy chief of staff after a senior staff meeting in which the mayor was told that his behavior with women “was terrible and possibly illegal.”

McCormack Jackson alleges that the mayor laughed off the warning.

It was at that time she said she realized the mayor would not change his behavior.

"It is time for him to take responsibility for the harm he caused me and for the damage he caused so many others who believed in him, supported him and elected him," she said.

Attorney Gloria Allred announced that McCormack Jackson filed a lawsuit Monday in San Diego. Read the complaint here.

Allred said they filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and received a right to sue letter which was a prerequisite in order to file a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment in the state of California.

Filner said in a statement responding to the lawsuit that he was “saddened” by the allegations. He asked the public not to jump to conclusions and to wait for "due process" to unfold.

“I do not believe these claims are valid. That is why due process is so important," he said. "I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail.”

Allred referred to the mayor's recent public apology in which he declared he needs help during the news conference, saying, "apologies alone will not take care of this injustice."

“Do you need help in order to know it’s inappropriate to place women in headlocks while making vile, disgusting sexual comments,” Allred said.

“What help do you need to stop treating women as “pieces of meat,” Allred asked.

The allegations outlined in the complaint are as follows:

January:
Moments before the State of the City address, Mayor Filner allegedly told her "I would do a better job if you gave me a kiss."

February:
After seeing a police officer's handcuffcs, Mayor Filner allegedly told her "You know what I would like to do with those handcuffs?"

February/March:
Filner allegedly told her "Wouldn't it be great if you took off your panties and worked without them on?"

April:
Filner allegedly put McCormack Jackson into a "headlock" and pulled her along with him telling her she was beautiful and asking when they would consummate their marriage.

April/May:
Filner put his arm around her shoulder and allegedly told her "One day we are going to get married."

June:
After proofing a press release in her office, he asked her "When are you going to get naked? Come on, give me a kiss"

It was this incident in June when McCormack Jackson claims Filner refused to leave her office telling her "I am the Mayor. I can go anywhere I want, any time I want."

She also alleges that three women "had to be driven home because of his abusive treatement" and five schedulers resigned because of his behavior.

Allred said they are interested in hearing from any other individuals who may be victims of the mayor.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has launched a special hotline after Mayor Filner admitted to disrespecting and even intimidating women in the past.

The hotline is available to anyone who wants to report sexual harassment allegations involving the mayor or his office.

On Saturday, Mayor Filner attended the designation of a section of El Cajon Boulevard in City Heights as Little Saigon and ignored NBC 7’s questions involving the scandal.

NBC 7 has made repeated requests for an interview to discuss the allegations that the mayor groped and kissed female constituents without their permission.

As he brushed by television news crews, Filner jumped into the back seat of a vehicle and drove from the event, running a red light in the process.

It was one of few public appearances by the mayor since allegations of sexual harassment were made public two weeks ago.

He's been a no-show at a number of events he was expected to attend.

Timeline: Bob Filner, Mayor Under Fire

Filner released a videotaped statement admitting he needs help but he has yet to respond directly to specific allegations.

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