- Photo: Reuters/Fred Greaves
A part-time gospel and R&B singer has accused San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of making unwanted advances toward her during an event at a church.
The woman, Renee Estill-Sombright, says the incident with Filner happened in June at the La Jolla Presbyterian Church where she was attending a benefit event for an organization that helps African refugees, U-T San Diego reports.
After singing the national anthem, she decided to reintroduce herself to the mayor, who she had met on one other occasion. But when she did so, she says, he asked her if she was married and then asked her out on a date.
"Oh you're so beautiful, you're so beautiful," said Filner, according to Estill-Sombright's account to U-T San Diego. "I want to take you out. This is a private invite, not a social invite."
Estill-Sombright also claims the mayor suggested she could perform a song for him in private, because he had missed her performance of the national anthem. She didn't draw attention to his comments at the time, she claims, because she was around too many people, including two bank managers she works under. She later told her assistant branch manager at the bank what had happened, 10News reports.
Estill-Sombright is the 10th woman to accuse the 70-year-old mayor of unwanted advances and inappropriate sexual behavior. Irene McCormack Jackson, a former mayoral communications director, is suing Filner and the city because the mayor allegedly sexually harassed her.
McCormack claims Filner demanded kisses, asked her to not wear underwear while working and made other sexual advances during her time working for him, The Associated Press reports. McCormack says she left her job after a deputy chief of staff complained to the mayor about his behavior toward women.
Filner, who began two weeks of behavioral therapy on Monday, previously said in a statement that he is "saddened" by the charges brought against him by McCormack.
"I do not believe these claims are valid. That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail," he said.
The San Diego City Council voted last week to file a lawsuit against Filner to recover any expenses the city might have to pay as a result of the McCormack lawsuit.
"This is part of due process," City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said, according to the Los Angeles Times. "If Bob Filner engaged in unlawful conduct and the city is held liable, he will have to reimburse us every penny the city pays and its attorney fees."
McCormack, Estill-Sombright and other women who have come forward about Filner's alleged behavior are demanding that he step down, but they aren't the only ones. A number of high-ranking Democrats in the state have said the Democratic mayor should resign, and an effort to recall Filner is underway as well.