Mayor Bob Filner to deliver keynote address at benefit for sexual assault victims

SAN DIEGO - 10News has learned Mayor Bob Filner has agreed to be the keynote speaker at a benefit for sexual assault victims.

A women veterans group tells 10News the mayor's camp has just confirmed the appearance. Filner was originally scheduled to attend as an award recipient.

The group has stripped him of the award. Instead, he is set to address the scandal now consuming City Hall.

The woman leading the benefit is Tara Jones, the president of the National Military Women Veterans Association of America.

Months ago, Jones' group decided to honor Filner with a lifetime leadership award for his work on behalf of women veterans, including the issue of sexual assault.              

Amid the recent scandal swirling around Filner, the group stripped him of the award. In a statement, the groups said, "We do not tolerate sexual discrimination at any level within our society."

Still, the group did not disinvite the mayor from the August award gala, instead announcing that he will address the scandal in a speech.

"He is now the keynote speaker on these injustices," said the group.

A motivation for the invite was not given, but Jones has repeatedly expressed the importance of creating awareness.

"We need the awareness piece, then have more dialogued to fix this," Jones recently told 10News.

But will the dialogue sparked by the speech help or hurt Filner?

"It's going to draw more attention to his difficulties with sexual harassment, but it could give him a chance to apologize him to an audience that could earn him some favor with voters," said political science professor Carl Luna.

Luna said the speech is clearly a gamble that could get ugly as Filner walks the political tightrope.

"He's going to be in a difficult situation before this group, arguing that he's been inappropriate but not sexually harassing," said Luna. "This is the thing groups like this try to fight."

The group will discuss the invite during a news conference on Saturday. The event will take place at the U.S. Grant Hotel the end of August.

The mayor's office did not respond to 10News' requests for a comment.

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