San Diego Unified board president joins in calls for Mayor Bob Filner to resign

SAN DIEGO - Another high-profile San Diego elected official has joined the intensifying chorus of calls for Mayor Bob Filner to step down from office due to allegations he has sexually harassed more than a dozen women.

John Evans, president of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education, released a statement Saturday afternoon, noting that he previously was a supporter of Filner's "because his emphasis on strong neighborhoods was consistent with our school district's vision of quality schools in every neighborhood of San Diego."

"Prior to his election, I had not heard any rumors about him sexually harassing women," Evans stated. "He is entitled to due process in any legal proceedings, but at this point he has lost any credibility to be the leader of our city and needs to resign."

Filner was due to return home Sunday from a voluntary stint in a behavioral therapy program – a week earlier than initially expected – to the reality that his last two supporters on the City Council have become opponents.

During Filner's absence, the locks on his 11th-floor office were changed, his chief of staff, Lee Burdick, acknowledged.

"The fact is that I had the locks changed to protect the mayor while he is away," Burdick told the Voice of San Diego in an e-mail. "My concern is/was that if anything was removed while the mayor was away, it could raise all kinds of questions about preservation or spoliation of potential evidence. Because I could not possibly determine everyone who had keys, I believed it was necessary to ensure the integrity of his physical office in his absence. The mayor will be given the keys upon his return."

Last month, Filner – publicly accused of unwanted sexual advances by 14 women and under investigation for alleged shakedowns of developers – apologized for his behavior, said he would enter the behavior-modification program on Aug. 5 and return to work two weeks later.

A statement from his lawyer, Irvine-based James Payne, said he will continue therapy on an outpatient basis and will not return to work next week.

It wasn't immediately clear when the mayor would actually return to his office, but when he does, he will find that all nine members of the City Council are united in calling for him to resign immediately.

The last two holdouts, Councilwomen Myrtle Cole and Marti Emerald, said in a joint statement that they were shocked by his conduct and lack of respect for women after hearing the most recent allegations.

"Mayor Bob Filner must resign immediately," the councilwomen said in the statement. "Disturbing new evidence about the mayor's conduct makes it crystal clear he can no longer remain the chief executive of the city of San Diego."

They said women who work in the mayor's office have told investigators of daily harassment and abuse by the mayor.

Also Friday, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., wrote an open letter to Filner calling for his resignation.

She wrote that allegations he made advances toward women who were raped during their military service "have shaken me to my core."

Her colleague, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has also called for Filner to step down.

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