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SAN DIEGO — A tentative deal has been reached involving a sexual harassment lawsuit against San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, but it’s unclear whether the agreement includes his resignation, something demanded by a chorus of fellow Democrats and a long line of women who say Filner mistreated them.
City Attorney Jan Goldsmith announced the agreement Wednesday evening after three days of mediation before a former federal judge but said he could not divulge any details until the proposal is approved by the City Council, which could happen Friday.
“The City Council has not heard of this proposal and our process at City Hall as well as the mediation process requires that we maintain the confidentiality of the proposal until they have heard of it,” Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith previously presented the City Council with a resolution to not pay for Filner’s defense and to countersue to distance the city from the scandal.
Steve Erie, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego, said Filner’s resignation was obviously part of the proposed resolution. Filner likely negotiated quitting in exchange for the city handling his legal costs, Erie said.
“He had to have Filner’s scalp in order to compromise and handle Filner’s fees,” he said of Goldsmith.
Filner’s attorneys did not respond to requests for comment. A city employee, Diana Palacios, tweeted a photo of the mayor Wednesday night leaving City Hall with boxes in the backseat of a black SUV.
The sex scandal swirling around Filner has plunged the city into political turmoil. The public has seen only glimpses of the mayor for the past several weeks. Meanwhile, a recall effort has started and women continue coming forward and saying Filner made unwanted advances and inappropriate statements to them.
Dianne York, the latest of at least 17 accusers, said Filner placed his hand on her buttocks while she posed for a photo with him about three months ago. York told reporters at a news conference Wednesday in National City that the incident took place after a meeting at his office. She said she reported it to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Filner, a 70-year-old former congressman who took office last December, has seen his political support crumble. The entire City Council has called on him to resign, as have members of Congress, state legislators and other political leaders.
The mayor’s former communication’s director, Irene McCormack Jackson, was the first woman to go public with harassment allegations and is the only one to file a lawsuit against Filner and the city. She claimed the mayor asked her to work without panties, demanded kisses, told her he wanted to see her naked and dragged her in a headlock while whispering in her ear.
Other accusers include a university dean and a retired Navy rear admiral. Some contend he cornered, groped and forcibly kissed them.
McCormack’s attorney, Gloria Allred, declined to comment on the settlement agreement but scheduled a news conference for today in Los Angeles. Filner’s former fiance, Bronwyn Ingram, is expected to join her.
Ingram called off the wedding in June and said it was because Filner seemed unable to control his impulses toward women.
Filner announced three weeks ago that he would undergo therapy after acknowledging he has disrespected and intimidated women. He has denied any sexual harassment.
Should Filner resign, City Council President Todd Gloria would become acting mayor until a special election is held. Gloria and Councilman Kevin Faulconer were among those at the settlement talks.
Meantime, the petition drive to recall Filner is underway, and calls from his own party urging him to step down were mounting with the Democratic National Committee planning to vote Friday on a resolution calling on him to quit.
Michael Pallamary, chair of the Recall Bob Filner campaign, urged recall supporters to continue working.
“The effort to qualify a recall to remove Bob Filner from office will continue unabated in its strength of purpose and momentum until a resignation has been tendered by Filner and an election called by the City Council to replace him,” he said in a statement.