SAN DIEGO - In a news conference Friday, San Diego Mayor Bob Filner said he plans to take two weeks off for therapy.
"On August 5, I will be entering a behavior counseling clinic to undergo two weeks of intensive therapy," Filner announced.
As soon as he made that remark, a sound system failure occurred and the mayor was unable to continue. He stood at the podium for a couple of minutes and waited to see if the problem could be resolved.
It could not, so Filner left. He returned a few minutes later and told those in attendance that he would restart his statement.
"I must take responsibility," the mayor said, calling his behavior inexcusable. "I apologize to the people of San Diego."
Filner said it was "not acceptable for me to explain my conduct as standards for a different generation."
He said he will be at the clinic full-time and will be briefed every morning and evening on city business.
Filner said this was "just the first step to ongoing counseling … I must become a better person …"
He added that he hopes he will be forgiven one day.
Filner will return on August 19, and he said his focus will be on being "the best mayor I can be, and the best person I must be."
Therapist Kristin Zeising spoke to 10News about the type of therapy Filner could undergo during the two weeks.
"The therapy would entail talking about why they have these behaviors, where did they come from, where were they learned and what are their thoughts on how they treat other people," said Zeising.
Changing his behavior will come at a price, according to Zeising.
"I would guess it would be in the thousands," Zeising told 10News.
Zeising believes Filner is starting the process of recovery in the right direction, but she believes two weeks isn't enough to fix the real problem.
"Two weeks of therapy, I believe, he will show signs of awareness as to why he has been doing what he has been doing and show the public he has some insight into that deep motivation to change," said Zeising.
Continuing therapy and treatment is the only true way Zeisign feels Filner will be able to develop a sense of empathy and remorse for his actions.
"The prognosis isn't 100 percent that he is going to change his behavior and never do these things or say these things or treat people poorly again. However, I assume any positive change is a good thing," said Zeising.
Team 10 broke the news nearly 90 minutes before the mayor's statement, through three separate sources inside City Hall.
Local leaders who have called for his resignation quickly responded to Filner's announcement.
City Council President Todd Gloria issued this statement in response to the announcement:
"Bob Filner's announcement that he will be taking a leave of absence prolongs the pain he is inflicting on our city at a time when San Diegans are calling for an end to this civic nightmare. The Mayor has finally acknowledged his very serious disorder which prevents his ability to govern and seriously affects his ability to interact with people. As would be the case with any leader in government or business, the standard he has to uphold is greater than to simply get treatment.
Since the City Charter hasn't clearly spelled out how to handle this situation, it requires us to ask in the strongest terms possible for the Mayor's resignation in a manner that allows the continuation of effective government for all San Diegans. The time for indecisiveness and inaction is over. I again call upon the Mayor to resign.
While Mr. Filner is choosing to continue to undermine the ability to run the City efficiently and effectively, I want to reassure the people of San Diego that my Council colleagues, City employees, and I remain focused on the providing the services citizens expect from your government."
City Councilman Kevin Faulconer said that the two weeks of therapy will not end decades of bad behavior.
"Bob Filner should leave to receive the help he obviously needs, but he shouldn't take the office of the mayor and San Diego city government with him. He needs to resign and seek long-term treatment as a private citizen," Faulconer's statement read.
City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf echoed the same sentiment, and in a statement she said that by not stepping down, Filner has insulted the victims and women everywhere.
"At the end of the day, Mayor Filner continues to put his needs in front of the needs of his victims and the needs of citizens of San Diego," said Zapf. "He is the mayor of the 8th largest city in the country and he must be held to a higher standard."
Former Filner allies Donna Frye, Cory Briggs and Marco Gonzalez and the first group to call for the mayor to step down, also spoke out about Filner's plan.
"Rehab is what bad politicians do after resigning," Gonzalez tweeted.
Some of Filner's accusers say two weeks of therapy isn't enough.
"I don't think therapy is accountability," said Laura Fink, a political strategist who claims Filner patted her on the rear end in public. "I think therapy is what you do to take care of yourself and your family and to confront a problem on a personal level."
"I think this is a ploy to buy time," said attorney Gloria Allred on CNN. Allred said nothing short of resignation will do.
San Diego Unified School District psychologist Morgan Rose, who claims Filner cornered her in a restaurant booth during a meeting and tried to kiss her four times, said the then-congressman treated her like a piece of meat. Rose claims Filner is addicted to power and control and two weeks of therapy won't fix that. She, too, is calling for his resignation.
Michael Pallamary, who is organizing a grassroots recall of the mayor, dropped by his office Friday demanding he resign by 5 p.m. Monday or be recalled.
Filner wouldn't see him.
"He's a coward. He's avoiding press, he's avoiding women. He should be able to meet with me; after all, he is my mayor. And he works for me, so he should meet with me," said Pallamary.
After hearing Filner admit to wrongdoing and saying he will get therapy, Pallamary said he'd created a "phenomenal liability" for the city.
"I think that press conference is probably [going to] cost the taxpayers about $25 million because he admitted to all of this conduct," Pollamary told 10News.
Pollamary said he has plenty of volunteers who are ready to collect more than 100,000 signatures to put a recall of Filner on the ballot.
In a statement released on DVD earlier this month, Filner said he "needs help" for intimidating women. He had apologized for only that, not sexual harassment.
In a news release issued by his office days later, Filner said he was innocent of sexual harassment, and was entitled to due process.
On Thursday, four more women openly came forward to say Filner had made unwanted sexual advances toward them and inappropriately touched them. A total of seven women have publicly come forward with sexual harassment accusations. Several more have come forward on the condition of anonymity, fearing retribution.
On Friday, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee called on Filner to resign.
Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz leads the DNC. She said the misconduct Filner has been accused of is, "reprehensible and indefensible" and called on him to resign.
Her call comes after the San Diego County Democratic Party leaders voted to ask the embattled mayor to resign on Thursday evening.
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