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San Diego mayor reaches settlement in sexual harassment lawsuit

San Diego mayor Bob Filner speaks at a news conference in San DiegoSAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and the city reached a proposed settlement yesterday in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against him by his former press secretary, the city attorney told reporters.

The disclosure of the settlement on the third day of negotiations came on the same day a former star of a reality television show became the 18th woman to publicly accuse Filner of groping or other inappropriate behaviour, in a scandal that has rocked California’s second largest city.

Filner has come under mounting pressure to resign amid a torrent of sexual harassment allegations levelled at him, starting with his former press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson, who sued the mayor and the city on July 22.

The San Diego City Council in July filed a cross-complaint against Filner seeking to recover from him any damages the city might face in the lawsuit.

“We have reached a proposed resolution,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, who was flanked by two City Council members and attorneys for Filner, told reporters gathered outside the downtown office building where talks were held.

Goldsmith did not disclose the scope of the proposed settlement, but he said that it will be presented to the San Diego City Council in closed session tomorrow.

“We won’t have more to discuss until Friday afternoon,” he said.

High-profile attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the former press secretary, has called for Filner to resign. Goldsmith, who is acting on behalf of the City Council and not the mayor in the case, told local television station KNSD earlier this month that settlement talks would give the mayor a potential “out” to litigation, although Goldsmith stopped short of saying that had to involve the mayor’s resignation.

A source close to an individual involved in the talks, when asked whether the proposed settlement would require Filner to resign, said: “I think it’s fair to say that looks like it’s in the cards.”

Filner, meanwhile, was spotted inside City Hall yesterday in what was believed to be the first sighting of him there since he took a brief leave of absence to enter behavioural modification therapy early this month. (Reuters)

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