SAN DIEGO (AP) — A former communications director for the mayor of San Diego filed a sexual harassment lawsuit on Monday alleging her ex-boss asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses and dragged her around in a headlock while whispering sexual advances.
Irene McCormack Jackson offered lurid details in the lawsuit making her the first person to publicly identify herself as the recipient of unwanted advances by Mayor Bob Filner.
Two weeks ago, some of his most prominent former supporters demanded that Filner resign after saying he had sexually harassed women.
McCormack, as she is known professionally, said at a news conference that she took a $50,000 pay cut to become the city's communications director in January — two months after Filner was elected to a four-year term as the city's first Democratic leader in 20 years. Before that, he spent 10 terms in Congress.
"I saw him place his hands where they did not belong on numerous women," McCormack said alongside her attorney, Gloria Allred, one of the most widely known civil rights attorneys in the country.
"He is not fit to be the mayor of our great city," McCormack added.
The lawsuit filed in San Diego Superior Court says McCormack resigned in June after a heated exchange between the mayor of the nation's eighth-largest city and Allen Jones, his deputy chief of staff, at a meeting when Jones told his boss that he needed "extreme therapy."
"You are treating women in a horrible manner," Jones is quoted saying. "What you are doing may even be illegal. You need to change your ways."
McCormack agreed that the mayor was "horrible" and began to leave the meeting before Filner challenged her to give an example.
"How about when you said that I should take my panties off and work without them," she replied, according to the lawsuit, which also names the city as a defendant and seeks unspecified damages.
The lawsuit alleges that Filner declared his love for McCormack and asked her to marry him. Filner, a 70-year-old divorcee, was engaged at the time to Bronwyn Ingram, who announced this month that she had ended the relationship.
McCormack worked for nine years at the Port of San Diego, most recently making $175,000 a year as vice president of public policy. She was a journalist for 25 years.
Lena Lewis, a spokeswoman for Filner, did not immediately reply to a phone call or email seeking comment on the latest allegations. However, the mayor has rejected calls that he resign. He has not addressed specific allegations while saying he didn't believe he was guilty of sexual harassment.
Filner apologized earlier this month for disrespecting and sometimes intimidating women in an extraordinary video released immediately after the initial allegations surfaced. He said, "I need help," and that he would be unable to lead San Diego if his behavior didn't change.
On Friday, Filner welcomed the San Diego County Sheriff's Department's decision to open a hotline to take calls from any possible victims of his misconduct, saying "some of these allegations will finally be addressed by an appropriate investigative authority rather than by press conference and innuendo."
The San Diego County district attorney's office said it would not be part of the Sheriff's Department investigation and that the California attorney general's office would review the findings to determine whether the mayor should be prosecuted.
San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis finished fourth in last year's mayoral primary and supported a Filner rival in the general election, saying then that Filner mistreated women.
No one had publicly identified herself as a victim until Monday.
Last week, former supporters said Filner jammed his tongue down a campaign volunteer's throat on a public sidewalk and groped her in her car. Another constituent who attended a mayoral event at City Hall said Filner took her to an enclosed area, dismissed a staff member, asked her on a date and kissed her.
An employee who worked for the mayor for six months complained that Filner grabbed her buttocks and touched her chest, according to the former supporters. Allred declined to say if McCormack was that woman.