Stacey McKenzie claims Filner put her in headlock, rubbed her breast area
Last Updated: 106 days ago
SAN DIEGO - A city of San Diego employee who contends Mayor Bob Filner asked her for a date and placed her in a headlock at a municipal function announced Monday her intention to sue the city.
Lawyer Daniel Gilleon, who represents Stacy McKenzie, the district manager for Mission Bay Park, the complaint is a precursor to a lawsuit.
The city can decide whether to accept or deny the claim -- the latter option would lead to a lawsuit.
McKenzie, who first went public with her accusations against the mayor on the station Aug. 8, said Filner asked her for a date and placed her in a headlock at a city function at Mission Bay on April 21. She said he also grabbed her wrists so she was unable to move.
"What he did was wrong, what he did was not okay," McKenzie told 10News media partner KOGO. "What he did shouldn't have happened to any one of us, regardless of what degree it was or how it came about."
The complaint also claims that Filner "placed Ms. McKenzie in a headlock, with his right arm rubbing her breast area and his left hand rubbing her left arm, after he made comments demonstrating the battery was for his sexual gratification."
Gilleon said his client did not want to "take the city down." The claim lists damages at $500,000.
McKenzie said she was wavering on legal action until Filner proclaimed in his farewell speech he has never sexually harassed a woman.
"He was trying to downplay what happened to us," she said. "It said you are liars."
Other victims of sexual harassment by Filner, whose resignation becomes effective at 5 p.m. Friday, should not be afraid to come forward, McKenzie said.
Gilleon said McKenzie, who has worked for the city for 32 years, had not decided whether to sue until she heard Filner's resignation speech Friday, in which he apologized but also denied accusations of sexual harassment. His client came to him in tears and decided to file the claim, he said.
Gilleon says even though San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith's office is now defending Filner, Goldsmith's previous words aimed at Filner could help the cases of the accusers and cost taxpayers.
"He called up while my client was on KOGO radio and said 'I'm sorry' to my client and Filner's a sociopath," said Gilleon.
How much more liability could the city be on the hook for? Of the 18 accusers, seven have described incidents that took place during Filner's time as mayor.
McKenzie was the second of three city employees to accuse the mayor of making unwanted sexual advances toward them.
The first, Irene McCormack Jackson, hired Los Angeles-based lawyer Gloria Allred and sued on July 22. McCormack Jackson, the mayor's communications director at the time, alleged he told her she should work
without her panties on, that he wanted to see her naked and that he could not wait to consummate their relationship.
Filner also allegedly demanded kisses from McCormack Jackson and put his arm around her and dragged her along in a headlock while making sexual remarks.
It was mediation over her lawsuit that led the 70-year-old mayor to resign after less than nine months in office.
A third city employee, 67-year-old great-grandmother Peggy Shannon, said Aug. 15 that Filner kissed her and repeatedly asked her for dates.
They're among nearly 20 women who have made similar accusations.
The City Council agreed to help defend the mayor against lawsuits arising from city employees, volunteers
When 10News asked if Goldsmith's comments would hurt the city’s cases, a spokesperson said in an email, the "comments won't hurt. They don't even know what our strategy would be at a trial or what the facts are."
Copyright CNS contributed to this report