Bob Filner, the mayor of San Diego, has been making headlines all week. Over a dozen women have formally accused him of sexual harassment within the workplace. However, because Filner has yet to step down, and is undergoing rehabilitation for his misogynistic behavior, he simply hasn't made an effort to apologize to these women directly. He needs to do better.
The claims of sexual harassment don't stem from something as benign as adding “babe” to the end of the sentence, or giving female employees overzealous compliments. Felner's crude come-ons led to full-blown forced physical interaction. According to Salon, Filner allegedly engaged in, “ groping, putting women in headlocks and trying to kiss them, telling one woman to come to ‘work without panties on,’ putting his hand down a woman’s bra, shoving his tongue women’s throats, and running his finger up a woman’s cheek and asking if she was single.”
Clearly, there’s a lot going on here. As the story develops, more and more women are going public about their experiences with Filner. This had been made possible by an anonymous hotline set up by the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. So far, a whopping total of 13 women have come forward about their harassment and are considering legal action against the former congressmen.
On Monday, Filner started a two-week behavior therapy program to kick his "habit" of inappropriate conduct, and to potentially gain the acceptance of the public. Is going to rehab enough to make up for his wrongdoing? The San Diego Democratic Party's Central Committee, California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, California Representatives Susan Peters and Scott Davis, Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have emphasized that it’s not. However, Filner refuses to step down.
Moving forward, the city of San Diego will have to change its policies (Filner apparently never received formal sexual harassment training prior to his first term as mayor), and Filner will have to do more to improve public opinion. While Filner can't undo his actions, he can deal with his public scandal professionally and politely. Although resignation would be ideal, the least Filner could do is go out of his way to directly apologize to these women for his wrongdoing, rather than simply stepping back and letting the courts make a determination. Perpetrators should go out of their way to formally apologize to victims, instead of just letting the judicial system take over. So remember…