San Diego mayor says he'll seek therapy, while Weiner still seeks NYC post

Bob Filner to undergo counseling for harassment, as NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner's sexting controversy deepens

Mayor Bob Filner apologized Friday for what he called a "failure to respect" women [Gregory Bull/AP]

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said Friday that he will undergo “intensive therapy” amid allegations of sexual harassment by at least seven women, while calls increased for New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner to drop out of the race after telling reporters he had sexual online relationships with three women after he left Congress.  

Filner announced his plans for a two-week stay in a behavioral clinic after a series of women, including retired Navy Rear Admiral Veronica “Ronnie” Froman and dean at the San Diego State University, Joyce Gattas, identified themselves as targets of his sexual harassment.

Filner’s party called for his resignation as four more women identified themselves in a group interview aired late Thursday on public television station KPBS – bringing to seven the number of women who have offered detailed accounts that include unwanted touching, kissing, groping and being placed in “headlocks”.

Their TV appearance came as the county Democratic Central Committee, a council of local party bosses and elected officials, voted 34-6 to approve a non-binding resolution demanding that Filner leave office.

During his two-week leave, Filner said he would be in counseling at the clinic full-time but would be briefed on city activities every morning and evening until his planned return to regular duties on August 19.

“I must be a better person, and my hope is that by becoming a better person, I put myself in a position to someday be forgiven,” he added.

Filner's fiance, Bronwyn Ingrim, announced the end of the engagement on Monday.

Patti Roscoe, a businesswoman in tourism and hospitality who knew Filner since before he was elected to Congress in 1992, said Filner placed her in a “headlock” numerous times and tried to kiss her on the lips.

“I’d have to squirm to get away. And just as recently as a few months ago this happened. I turned and he just slobbered down my chin,” Roscoe said.

On Monday, the 70-year old Democratic mayor’s communications director from January to June, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a lawsuit claiming that he asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.

After the accusations came to light, Filner apologized to voters, his staff and the women he allegedly harassed, saying: “Words alone are not enough. I am responsible for my conduct. And I must take responsibility for my conduct.”

Problems began for Filner -- San Diego’s first Democratic mayor in 20 years -- two weeks ago when a former councilwoman and one-time Filner supporter called for the mayor to step down – saying she had credible evidence that he harassed women.

Filner issued a video statement, apologizing for intimidating and “failing to fully respect” women. He called his behavior “inappropriate and wrong,” promised to change and declared, “I need help.”

Weiner's mayoral 'circus'

During her weekly news conference in Washington on Thursday, U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Filner should seek private counseling and compared his behavior to the conduct of another ex-congressman engulfed in a sex scandal since he turned to mayoral politics – Democrat Anthony Weiner of New York.

“The conduct of some of these people that we are talking about here is reprehensible. It is so disrespectful of women. And what is really stunning about it is they don’t even realize it. You know, they don’t have a clue,” she said.

Meanwhile, Anthony Weiner’s New York mayoral campaign took a beating Thursday as he lost his lead in a new poll and admitted to sending lewd online messages to up to three women since he resigned from Congress over such behavior two years ago.

One of those women came forward on Thursday to say they had frequent sexually charged conversations both online and over the phone last year – though they had never met in person.

Weiner said at a news conference he had online exchanges with six to 10 women over the years, adding, “I can’t tell you absolutely what someone else is going to consider inappropriate or not.”

With less than two months left before the Democratic primary, a new poll showed Weiner trailing nine percentage points behind City Council Speaker Christine Quinn -- who, if elected, would be the city's first woman and lesbian mayor.

Weiner, once a leading liberal voice in the House of Representatives, resigned his Congressional post in 2011 after he texted a photo of himself in his underwear to a woman, a move that erupted into an expose of his lewd behavior online and in texts.

For a time, it appeared Weiner would be able to move past the scandal and within weeks of launching his campaign in May, he had pulled ahead of Quinn.

That changed this week when a gossip website called The Dirty published a series of sexually explicit messages and images that an unidentified young woman said she had received from Weiner, including pictures of his penis.

On Tuesday, Weiner admitted the messages were real and said he had continued to interact with women online as recently as last summer, more than a year after his resignation.

Now, nearly half of Democrats say Weiner’s online activity will affect their vote, according to the Marist telephone survey conducted on Wednesday.

Women’s groups have come out in support of Quinn for mayor of New York and denounced Weiner for his lewd online behavior, USA today reported.

EMILY’s List, a women’s political group, sent out an email on Friday saying “New Yorkers deserve better than the circus their mayoral race has turned into.”

The group, which raises money for female candidates, encouraged voters to support Quinn’s campaign.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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