Two military veterans come forward with accusations against Filn - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Two military veterans come forward with accusations against Filner

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) - The count of women who have publicly accused Bob Filner of sexual harassment stood at 13 Wednesday after two female military veterans claimed the San Diego mayor made unwanted advances on them.

Both women, Eldonna Lewis Fernandez and Gerri Tindley, told CNN that Filner accosted them at a National Women Veterans Association of America event last year, while he was a congressman running for mayor.

Fernandez, a retired Air Force master sergeant, said Filner told her she was beautiful and asked her to dinner. He later left her a voice mail.

"Hi, it's your newly favorite congressman, Bob Filner," he says on the message. "You know, the one who fell in love with you at your last speech?"

Fernandez said she deleted the message but later found it in her phone's trash file.

"Yeah, it was kind of creepy," she said. "We totally felt like we could trust him because he was always fighting for our cause."

Tindley said Filner sat next to her in a waiting room at the event and kept moving closer to her on a couch. Tindley, who said she was raped while in the Army and bore a son, said she nearly fell off the couch trying to get away from him.

"He got as close as he could to me -- his jacket was touching my jacket," Tindley told CNN. "I was bent down. He was bent down with me, rubbing like he cared, like he was consoling me."

Fernandez said she was raped three times while in the service.

"We're all victims of military sexual assault, and it appears to me that he was targeting this organization and hitting on the women in this organization because they were easy prey," Fernandez said. "So he's part of an organization that's against sexual assault and sexual violence towards women and sexual harassment, and he's doing the very thing that we are fighting to make stop in our service and in our country."

The CNN story sparked renewed calls for Filner's ouster.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said on her Twitter account "Just when you think it can't get any worse... Please, Mayor Filner resign, then stay in rehab forever. You need it." The remark was followed by a link to the CNN story.

Gonzalez formerly led the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, an umbrella organization for the labor unions that funded most of Filner's mayoral campaign. She is also the sister of Marco Gonzalez, a North County attorney who was one of three former Filner supporters who first raised the sexual harassment allegations.

Tuesday, a nurse seeking help for an injured Marine ensnared in Veterans Administration red tape said the San Diego mayor sought a personal relationship with her.

Her lawyer, Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred, said Filner made his advances on licensed vocational nurse Michelle Tyler in the mayor's office on June 11, about a month before Marco Gonzalez, lawyer Cory Briggs and ex-Councilwoman Donna Frye leveled the first allegations.

Allred said Tyler had seen Filner when he was a congressman and leader of the House Veterans Affairs Committee because the Marine, Katherine Ragazzino, had not been able to resolve her problems with the VA, and he asked her to return if the issues persisted. Ragazzino said she suffered a traumatic brain injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder during her service in Iraq.

Allred said that at the latest meeting, Filner seemed willing to help Tyler, "but at a price," notably a "personal and sexual relationship."

"In other words, Mayor Filner wanted Ms. Tyler to help him fulfill his sexual needs if she wanted his help for a deserving war veteran," Allred said. "That is not only disgusting, but a complete abuse of power that should not be tolerated by the electorate."

Allred -- appearing with Tyler and Ragazzino before reporters in San Diego -- said the women do not plan to file a lawsuit, but they want City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to open an investigation of the mayor. Goldsmith has said his office is investigating the allegations against Filner, who started two weeks of behavioral therapy on Monday.

Filner has apologized for what he called a failure to respect women and his "intimidating conduct" but insists that his actions do not constitute sexual harassment.

On Monday, Filner began a two-week behavioral therapy program. His chief of staff, Lee Burdick, refused to comment on the latest allegations.

Many political, civic and business leaders have called for the mayor to resign, including seven of the nine members of the City Council, the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee, former Mayor Jerry Sanders, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles.

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