Sexual harassment lawsuit against Filner could result in damages in the millions

Attorney says claim may bring more victims forward

SAN DIEGO - The sexual harassment lawsuit filed against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner on Monday could result in a damage award of more than a million dollars, according to a San Diego employment attorney.

"I would think six figures is definitely likely," said Corey Hanrahan. "Depending on what sort of testimony they get from supporting witnesses, it's possible it could go up to seven figures."

According to Hanrahan, most sexual harassment cases are settled before they ever go to trial, but the fact that high-profile attorney Gloria Allred is now handling the first sexual harassment case against Filner could mean there is a greater chance it will go to trial because Allred will want to let the city of San Diego and the nation know "you can't do these kind of things to females and get away with it."

Allred filed the sexual harassment lawsuit on behalf of Irene McCormack Jackson, who was Filner's communications chief from January to June of this year. She walked out after claiming she was forced to endure crude sexual comments, inappropriate touching and other demeaning actions from Filner, who she claims asked her to work without her panties on.

Hanrahan told 10News McCormack Jackson's claim will make it easier for other potential victims to come forward.

"I think the witnesses are going to come forward to speak the truth even if it's against the city's interest or against Filner's interest because they wouldn't feel like they're going to be retaliated against for doing that."

Hanrahan said that is largely because of the media spotlight now on the case.

San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith Monday said the city would not pay Filner's legal fees to fight the lawsuit, and Hanrahan said it is likely the city will do all it can to distance itself from Filner.

That could be a problem after McCormack Jackson said in her lawsuit that a San Diego Police officer witnessed at least one incident where Filner was out of line.

"That police officer should have went and reported what went on if he or she thought that it was inappropriate conduct," said Hanrahan, who added that the officer should have reported it to his or her superiors.

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