San Diego Mayor Filner blames city for no harassment training

Bob Filner said last week that he took responsibility for his actions

A lawyer for embattled San Diego Mayor Bob Filner argues the city should fund his defence as it failed to give him anti-sexual harassment training.

Harvey Berger made the argument in a letter a day before the city council voted unanimously to deny Mr Filner such funding.

Eight women have now accused him of unwelcome advances, some of them physical.

He has said he will attend "behaviour counselling", but will not quit.

The mayor and the city have been sued by his former communication director, Irene McCormack Jackson, over harassment allegations. Among other claims, she says he asked her to work without wearing underwear.

Start Quote

Many - if not most - people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law”

End Quote Harvey Berger Mayor Bob Filner's laywer

While Mr Filner has admitted he is in need of "help", his lawyer says his client denies Ms McCormack's allegations.

In a letter sent on Monday and obtained by a local broadcaster, Mr Berger argued that the city of San Diego had been required to provide sexual harassment training for all management-level employees in their first six months.

Mr Berger said the training had been scheduled, but the city trainer cancelled and did not reschedule.

"This is not an excuse for any inappropriate behavior which may have occurred," the lawyer wrote, "but having conducted sexual harassment training many times over the years, I have learned that many - if not most - people do not know what is and what is not illegal sexual harassment under California law."

He said Mr Filner may not now be facing a lawsuit if he had undergone the classes.

However, the city council evidently was not swayed by the lawyer's argument.

A day later, on Tuesday, they voted unanimously to sue Mr Filner to require him pay for any legal damages or fees if the city is held liable for the harassment claims. It also moved to deny him funds for his defence.

The local Democratic committee voted by 34-6 last week for Mr Filner to quit, but only a recall election can force him out of office.

The former congressman said in a news conference on Friday that his behaviour had been "inexcusable".

He said he would undergo two weeks of intensive therapy "to begin the process of addressing my behaviour".

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