Does a therapy program exist that heals patients in a week? No, but San Diego Mayor Bob Filner seems to know better than his mental health professionals. Filner decided to end his therapy sessions a week early after reluctantly checking himself in for the alleged sexual harassment of 14 women. Filner, 70, signed up for a two-week intensive program of sexual harassment therapy, but apparently felt one week would suffice.
As reported on KPCC's AirTalk, “Filner has admitted wrongdoing, but refuses to resign and wants the city of San Diego to pay his legal fees.”
After his crude and inappropriate sexual advances over the years, two of which were towards victims of military sexual assault, Filner was asked to attend a two-week psychotherapy program. A scant two-week program is supposed to be this sexual predator’s punishment? It’s no surprise Filner checked out after a week — the penalty is an embarrassing gesture at best. Filner’s punishment should have been immediate resignation with mandatory, intensive inpatient psychotherapy.
One of the women who accused Filner of inappropriate sexual advances was Eldonna Fernandez, retired Air Force master sergeant. “She cited Filner’s 'creepy' 2012 voicemail asking her out, after she spoke publicly about her three rapes while in the service,” as the Washington Post reports. According to CNN, Fernandez implied Filner has some mental health issues. She's probably right, but then why is Filner still in a position of power?
According to the Washington Post, Democrats are looking to get Filner to resign as soon as possible. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) demanded this after hearing the stories of the four women who came forth this past week alone. Boxer wrote Filner a letter stating,
“Let me be clear: The latest revelations regarding your behavior toward women recovering from sexual assault — women who desperately need our help — have shaken me to my core.” The Post further reports, “Boxer is among a growing list of politicians seeking Filner’s resignation, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) , his Democratic successor, and Debbie Wasserman Scultz (D-Fla.), who chairs the Democratic National Committee.”
Although this is good news, it doesn’t guarantee his resignation. Filner cannot be fired by City Council, given California is an at-will state for employees. Since he was elected by the people, he must be removed by them. In this case, what additional evidence do voters really need to realize this man is a predator, and should no longer hold a position of power?
If Filner chooses not to step down from his position, he will be mayor heading into 2014. A recall election is the only way to oust him. This is a sad reminder to the victims and population in general that this perpetrator is free to continue working in a public capacity. This case may lead to California and other states reviewing laws around firing and retaining public employees when incidents of abuse become known and verified.