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Editorial: San Diego mayor’s behavior with women leads to resignation

Updated Friday with Filner resignation

NORWALK, Conn. – The disgraceful X-rated drama that has dominated the news in San Diego, bringing the glare of national spotlights and the accompanying shame to the city, is coming to a close. The longtime political favorite, who was finally outed recently as a serial harasser and accused groper, resigned as mayor Friday in a deal that leaves the city on the hook for his legal defense.

Bob Filner was supposed to be a partisan savior of sorts, the crowning achievement of San Diego’s progressives who worked so hard to break the Republican stranglehold on the Southern California city.

We all know how that turned out.

The mayor turned out to be a serial harasser of women, an accused fondler, a man whose lack of respect for women apparently knows no bounds.

The sad thing is, the behavior is not all that rare among men in power, especially men of a certain age (think the “Mad Men” generation).

And the sadder thing is that most women are afraid to come forward.

That’s what empowers these guys. Their power is intimidating, the potential for retaliation frightening. And, should a woman come forward when she has been verbally harassed, kissed against her will or sexually groped, she is likely to be met with skepticism, derision and scorn. The abusers depend on this.

Filner was rumored to be behaving badly when he was a member of Congress, but no one came forward, no one blew the whistle, so he was able to continue with impunity. Then he went home to San Diego and was hailed by a Democratic Party desperate to take over City Hall.

But, finally, one woman came forward, a woman who used to work for Filner. Then another came forward. And another. At last check, 18 women had come forward to publicly accuse the mayor of inappropriate behavior. Sexual scandals are nothing new when it comes to politics, but most often they involve hookers or consensual extramarital sex. Elected officials forcing  themselves on women takes it to another level. Former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood lost his career over incidents similar to those of which Filner is accused. Former Congressman Eric Massa lost his seat, too, for groping and tickling male staffers.

Verbal harassment is reason enough to turn an alleged leader out of office, but these physical incidents are nothing less than assaults, and women have to know they can come forward and report such behavior without fear of repercussions. They have a duty, not only to themselves but to all women, to stop the abuse.

So we extend our congratulations and support to those women who have stood up against the powerful and abusive mayor of San Diego. They are a model for women everywhere.

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