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Mayor accused of sexual harassment, asked to step down

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Three former supporters of Mayor Bob Filner have written letters calling on him to resign, with two raising sexual harassment allegations aired publicly for the first time Wednesday.

The mayor's office did not respond to a message seeking comment on the letters sent by former Councilwoman Donna Frye -- who until April served as Filner's director of open government -- environmental lawyer Marco Gonzalez and open government advocate Cory Briggs.

"I have recently received credible evidence of more than one woman being sexually harassed by you," wrote Frye, who resigned to take the helm of a statewide nonprofit.

In a letter posted on the website of KPBS Radio, she said she'd heard rumors previously but tried to give the mayor the benefit of the doubt.

"However, those who have spoken to me recently would not make the allegations lightly or without cause and I believe them," Frye said.

She said she couldn't in good conscience remain silent, but it was "anguishing" to ask him to leave office.

Gonzalez, known for filing lawsuits that have threatened July 4 fireworks shows in coastal areas, said in his letter that he thought Filner, at a recent meeting, understood the "gravity of circumstances" concerning his treatment of employees, especially women.

"Unfortunately, I and numerous of my colleagues have reached the point where we do not believe your behavior will change, and thus must request that you immediately relinquish your position as mayor," Gonzalez wrote.

He is the brother of Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, the head of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council when Filner ran for office last year. His candidacy was primarily funded by organized labor.

Gonzalez criticized Filner for "inexcusable behavior."

The third letter came from Cory Briggs, a San Diego lawyer who sued to stop the convention center expansion and renewal of the city's Tourism Marketing District.

Briggs faxed a letter to the mayor's office, saying that "long-term damage" to the principles of open government would be caused if Filner were to remain in office.

"At this point, I cannot maintain my credibility in the community as an advocate for good government while pretending that your office has not been irreversibly compromised," Briggs wrote.

He said his "request" was made reluctantly, since he shares the mayor's views on what's wrong with the city and the ways to fix the problems.

Briggs also said he filed lawsuits to nullify City Council approval of a waiver of municipal policy on setbacks for a developer that donated $100,000 to the city, and to force the release of an un-redacted transcript of a contentious closed session between Filner, the City Council and lawyers from the City Attorney's Office.

The mayor berated one of the city's top lawyers and ordered his removal by police, according to a redacted transcript of the meeting that was recently provided to reporters.

It was reported last week that federal investigators will look into an about-face by the mayor's office on the setback policy waiver for Sunroad Enterprises, which is constructing apartment buildings in Kearny Mesa. The shift came around the same time the company made the donation, which was later returned.

Filner blamed the donation on ex-Deputy Chief of Staff Allen Jones, who recently resigned. Jones told reporters he left his job because of the way the mayor treats his employees.

On Monday, it was learned that the 70-year-old mayor's 48-year-old fiancee has called off their relationship. Bronwyn Ingram said she would no longer pursue projects to help San Diego's homeless.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer sent reporters a statement in which he stopped short of calling for the mayor's resignation but said Filner needs to address the allegations.

"It saddens me that the city of San Diego is crumbling under Mayor Filner's scandals, including these most recent sexual misconduct allegations," Faulconer said. "These allegations are very serious and Bob Filner owes the public a full explanation."

Council President Todd Gloria, who would become interim mayor if Filner was to resign, declined to comment.

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