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Military Veterans Accuse San Diego Mayor Of Sexual Harassment

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner entered a two-week behavioral therapy program on Monday.
Sam Hodgson
San Diego Mayor Bob Filner entered a two-week behavioral therapy program on Monday.

Two military veterans are the latest women making allegations against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

Eldonna Fernandez, a retired master sergeant from the Air Force, and Gerri Tindley, an Army veteran, said Filner made unwanted advances back when Filner was serving his 10th term as a U.S. congressman in 2012. What's more, they told CNN in an interview, he did so knowing the two women had said they were raped while in the military.

CNN reports:

"They are also among at least eight female veterans and members of the National Women's Veterans Association of America (NWVAA) in San Diego who have made accusations against the mayor. Almost all of the women were victims of sexual assault while they were in the military.

"The women, like Fernandez, say the former chairman of the House Veterans' Affairs Committee used his significant power and credentials to access military sexual assault survivors, who they say are less likely to complain."

Filner, as we've told you, has faced a barrage of accusations, but he has refused to step down, despite pressure from his own party. Filner entered a two-week treatment program on Monday.

Before the two women came forward, the Women's Veterans Association of America dropped its plan to give Filner, who had served as the leading Democrat on the House Veterans Committee, a lifetime achievement award. The organization also dropped him as a speaker at one of its upcoming galas.

"It has hurt our organization tremendously as what our overall cause is. That's why we encourage San Diego to stand before the entire nation and send a message of who they are, that whatever is going on does not define our city," NWVAA President Tara Jones told San Diego's ABC10 last month.

Update at 6:27 p.m. ET. Needs To Be Held Accountable:

In a televised press conference, Jones confirmed the CNN report. She said that in the last couple of weeks, the organization asked its members if any of them had been harassed by Filner.

"When I got to eight or nine, I stopped counting," she said.

"Make no mistake, he needs to be held accountable. To chose this population, he needs to be held accountable," Jones said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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