Mayor Filner Keynote at Benefit for Sex Assault Victims

By Paul Krueger and R. Stickney
|  Thursday, Jul 18, 2013  |  Updated 5:13 AM PDT
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Mayor to Speak at Benefit for Sex Assault Victims

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, under fire for allegations of sexual harassment, will no longer be honored at a benefit for sex assault victims, but organizers still want him to be a keynote speaker.

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San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, under fire for allegations of sexual harassment, will no longer be honored at a benefit for sex assault victims, but organizers still want him to be a keynote speaker.

Special Section: Mayor Under Fire

Tara Jones, spokesperson for the National Women Veterans Association of America, told NBC 7 it wasn’t a difficult decision to change the event planned Aug. 30 at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego.

Mayor Filner was initially chosen to receive a Lifetime of Achievement Award by the group. However, all that changed Thursday.

Filner publicly admitted that he has disrespected women and even intimidated them in the past after he was asked to resign amid sexual harassment allegations.

“He has admitted to having inappropriate behavior, we just don’t know to what extent that behavior is,” Jones said, adding that the behavior could range from aggression to sexual assault. “We just don’t have enough facts.”

Now, Filner will not be honored but he has been invited to speak.

“That’s not a hard decision if somebody is giving a cry for help saying there is a problem with inappropriate behavior,” she said.

Other allegations made by anonymous accusers include groping, kissing and offensive language in the workplace.

Mayor Filner has not directly responded to those allegations other to say that he should have due process under the law.

The mayor's office has refused repeated requests from NBC 7 for an interview.

An attorney for an employee of the mayor’s office told NBC 7 that his client has begun taking steps to formalize her allegations.

Preparing for possible sexual harassment claims, the City of San Diego has also made adjustments to seating arrangements and instructions to employees who may come in contact with the mayor.

“I am very surprised they have him as a speaker on this topic,” said political analyst John Dadian.

Because of developments over the past week, Dadian said he was surprised to see the event’s promotional material unchanged.

However, Jones said the group made the decision Friday, announced it Monday and are in the process of updating their website with the new information.

When asked why the organization wouldn’t disinvite the mayor right away, Jones said “no comment.”

Instead, she sees Filner’s continued involvement in the event as a step in the right direction.

“If we have something going on in our mayor’s office, what a better place to start for change,” she said.

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