SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City Councilwoman Marti Emerald broke her silence Tuesday on the sexual harassment allegations dogging Mayor Bob Filner, but she did not call for her political ally to resign.
"Today, I have a simple but serious request. My request is that the mayor take his time out and spend two weeks in thought and therapy, that he reach into his heart and make a connection with the pain and disgrace that he has brought upon so many women," Emerald said in a statement she read at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
She issued the statement minutes after being criticized by four women for not speaking out previously.
Emerald was at a month-long symposium on governance at Harvard University when the allegations surfaced and returned a few days ago. She said she watched the controversy from afar and absorbed "the magnitude of the situation" and the depth of the hurt and harm to women.
"I also hope that he makes a connection with God and asks for forgiveness, and for the spiritual strength and courage to do what he needs to do to end this horrible situation," Emerald said. "I do not believe it is my place to be the judge or the jury for our mayor. But I do know it is my place as an elected woman and as a community leader to stand up and speak out on behalf of those who have been harmed and stand with them -- every woman -- in solidarity."
She said she didn't know what kind of future decisions would be made by Filner -- whose name she didn't use -- but the responsibility and consequences of the decisions "rest solely on him, and with him."
Seven of the nine members of the City Council have called on the mayor to resign.
Seven women have stepped forward to publicly accuse Filner of unwanted sexual advances. Former mayoral Communications Director Irene McCormack Jackson is suing Filner and the city.
Before Emerald read her statement, four women criticized her for not speaking out on behalf of women.
One of them, Lindsey Mercer, later said she appreciated and respected the councilwoman's comments.
"His behavior has been so outrageous and egregious to this point that, I think, (for) us concerned female voters nothing short of a call for resignation is enough," said Mercer, an attorney.
"Given the number of victims, Mayor Filner's acknowledgement of his wrongdoing, his public apology for this behavior -- it's just not behavior that we can stand for in the leader of our city and someone who supervises female employees and is supposed to represent all voices here in San Diego," Mercer said.
Another who spoke out, Stacia De Los Reyes, said she was not interested in anything short of a call for resignation.