SAN DIEGO, October 15, 2013 – In a stunning and sudden turn of events, California State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris announced via a news release that former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has plead guilty to one count of felony false imprisonment and two counts of misdemeanor battery.
Filner entered his guilty plea Tuesday morning in San Diego County Superior Court.
“This conduct was not only criminal, it was also an extreme abuse of power,” said Attorney General Harris. “This prosecution is about consequence and accountability. No one is above the law.”
Filner agreed to resign as the elected leader of the nation’s sixth largest city effective August 30 as part of a mediation deal reached after a civil lawsuit was filed against him by his former communications director for sexual harrassment. Numerous other women came forward to describe similar incidents with Mayor Filner over the past few years. He will be formally sentenced on December 9. Fines including restitution, probation and court fees will be determined at Filner’s sentencing hearing.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Filner must surrender his mayoral pension from the date the felony was committed (March 6, 2013) until the date he resigned office (August 23, 2013). He will serve probation for three years and home confinement for three months.
The agreement also prohibits Filner from ever seeking or holding public office again. As a consequence of the felony plea, Filner may not vote, serve on a jury or own a firearm while he is on probation.
Filner is required to undergo treatment as directed by a mental health professional throughout his probation. If he violates the terms of his probation, he may face up to six months in jail.
San Diego District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, who ran against Filner for Mayor, said via Twitter after the plea was announced, “(The) ex-mayor’s guilty plea sends strong message: nobody is above the law, abuse won’t be tolerated, and victims will be treated with respect.”
Filner’s longtime supporter, former San Diego labor leader and now state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, remarked via Twitter, “I hope that people will stop with the craziness now. He admitted it. Move on, stop with bizarre conspiracy rumors and stop blaming women.
The civil lawsuit filed by attorney Gloria Allred on behalf of McCormack Jackson is still pending. The City of San Diego agreed to defend Filner in the lawsuit as part of his agreement to resign as mayor.
From the first, Filner was defiant about his behavior, denying any inappropriate behavior and indicating no intention of resigning, even as the parade of women who came forward to share lurid details of Filner’s behavior continued, 18 of whom made their stories public prior to his resignation.
Upon his resignation in a public address to the San Diego City Council, he was defiant and said if he had been given due process he would be “vindicated.”
When the opportunity came to fight these charges in court per his due process, Filner folded his cards.
This is not the end of Filner’s legal problems. He is also potentially facing charges in connection with allegations he solicited a bribe in exchange for approval of a development project.
By comparison, all Anthony Weiner did was lose an election.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is a veteran, award-winning print and broadcast journalist. She is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California.
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