Filner accuser Irene McCormack Jackson says she stands with other victims

City, McCormack Jackson settles lawsuit for $250K

SAN DIEGO - Sexual harassment victim and Bob Filner's former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson said Tuesday that she and other victims "made a difference" when they spoke out against the former mayor.

McCormack Jackson settled a lawsuit with the city of San Diego for $250,000 on Monday. In a news conference Tuesday with famed attorney Gloria Allred, McCormack Jackson said she stood in "solidarity" with other victims of harassment.

"I send my love and regards to the brave women who followed me into the public spotlight last summer and told their disturbing tales about being sexually harassed by the former mayor," she said. "The almost daily news conferences over several weeks was stunning and I watched with tears in my eyes. I haven't met most of you but your courage is always with me."

The last several months took an "emotional toll" on McCormack Jackson, saying it "was more than I had reckoned."

Jackson, 57, was Filner's communications director from January 2013 to June 2013. She alleged the then-mayor told her she should work without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he was eager to "consummate" their relationship.

She spoke about how difficult it was to come forward against her former boss.

"I remember walking back to my office afterward, my eyes on the ground and my shoulders hunched. I cringed when people recognized me and waved me down or called my name," McCormack Jackson said.

It was mediation over her lawsuit that led the then-70-year-old mayor to resign last August after less than nine months in office. The City Attorney's Office agreed to defend Filner in exchange for his agreement to step down.

Filner later pleaded guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment and two misdemeanor counts of battery and was sentenced in December to three years probation, including three months of home confinement.

Nearly 20 other women, including political consultant Laura Fink, Adm. Ronnie Froman and San Diego State University dean Joyce Gattas, went public last year with similar stories prompting Filner to resign on Aug. 30.

Allred, who initially filed a lawsuit for $1.5 million, said the settlement is a "vindication of Irene's claims."

"Employees are not going to be silent anymore. They are going to be inspired by Irene all over the country," Allred said.

Allred believed a jury may have awarded her an amount in excess of the amount she agreed to in the settlement. However, "Irene felt that it was important that the city of San Diego which she loves, be able to put the lawsuit to rest."

Jackson has been on unpaid leave. Under the settlement, her municipal employment will terminate on April 1.

She said it is still unclear what her future holds, but will be ready to make a difference wherever her future path takes her.

"You don't think people are going to believe you, but your loved ones will believe you. And if you just recognize that, you can gain a hell of a lot of courage," McCormack Jackson said.

Allred would not say how much of the settlement money her client would actually see. She would only tell 10News that "Uncle Sam" would be taking a portion.

Cases filed by two other women who sued Filner over his alleged misconduct are still pending.

Stacy McKenzie, a city employee like McCormack Jackson, contends the ex-mayor grabbed her from behind, put her in a headlock and rubbed her breasts at an event at a city park.

Michelle Tyler was seeking help for a friend, a Marine veteran, when she says Filner demanded a personal and sexual relationship.

Resolutions of those cases could come "fairly soon," according to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith.

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