San Diego County Sheriff's Department would be lead investigators if Filner probe launched

Filner responds to creation of hotline

SAN DIEGO - San Diego Mayor Bob Filner issued a statement Friday evening in response to the hotline established to report allegations of sexual harassment.

In the statement, Filner said:

"I very much welcome the fact that some of these allegations will finally be addressed by an appropriate investigative authority rather than by press conference and innuendo. As I have stated before, everyone deserves due process and I am encouraged an effort to implement that has begun."

Earlier in the day, it was announced that the San Diego County Sheriff's Department would be the lead investigative agency if an investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Filner was warranted.

Sheriff's officials said should an investigation into the harassment claims begin, Capt. Duncan Fraser -- who commands the sheriff's Central Investigations Division -- would oversee the cases.

Sheriff's officials also announced that a hotline for possible victims will be available if a probe is launched. The number is 619-481-0220, and sheriff's officials stress that the hotline is to only be used by those willing to come forward with information.

Under California Penal Code, persons who report they have been the victim of a sexual offense will be provided anonymity, and under Marsy's Law, victims of sexual offenses can be accompanied by a representative or an advocate during the interview process, sheriff's officials said.

Sheriff's officials stated, "Sheriff Bill Gore would like to emphasize these are extremely sensitive matters and should there be an investigation, his department as the lead agency, will not be providing details as the investigation proceeds … Should the Sheriff's Department conduct an investigation, there will be a thorough analysis of each complaint and if warranted, details would be provided to the State Attorney General's Office for their prosecutive opinion."

Filner has previously said he is innocent of any claims made against him and has stated that he would not step down as mayor.

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