SAN DIEGO -- Declaring he "must become a better person," San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said Friday he will undergo two weeks of counseling after a series of women claimed he made unwanted sexual advances that included groping, kissing and offensive comments.
The announcement did little to stifle widespread calls for the former congressman to resign and further plunged the nation's eighth-largest city into political turmoil.
"Words alone are not enough," Filner said at a nationally televised news conference. "I am responsible for my conduct and I must take responsibility for my conduct so that such conduct does not ever happen again."
Filner said he will receive twice-a-day briefings about city operations while participating full-time in what he described as "intensive therapy" beginning Aug. 5. He said he would return on Aug. 19. He said the two-week stint will be part of a continuing program that involves ongoing counseling.
Several people who have called on Filner, who is 70 and divorced, to resign said his plan for therapy was inadequate and reiterated calls for the Democrat to step down.
"Two weeks of therapy may help Bob Filner with his personal problems, but it does not help to address the needs of San Diego," said Laura Fink, a political consultant who alleges that Filner patted her buttocks at a 2005 fundraiser when she was deputy campaign manager for the then-congressman.
When the allegations first surfaced two weeks ago, Filner apologized for disrespecting women and said he needed help. But soon after, he said he was innocent of sexual harassment and resisted calls to leave office.
The former congressman is San Diego's first Democratic mayor in 20 years, and he is less than eight months into a four-year term. The mayor's office and city attorney did not immediately respond to questions concerning how operations at City Hall would change while Filner is receiving therapy.
Filner disclosed his plans hours after Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman called on him to resign, as did leaders of the San Diego Democratic Party, after seven women identified themselves as targets of his sexual harassment. Among the women is a retired rear admiral, a businesswoman and Filner's former communications director.