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San Diego mayor faces sex harassment lawsuit, city faces uncertainty

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“Women were viewed by Mayor Filner as sexual objects or stupid idiots,” said McCormack Jackson, a former reporter who resigned from her position as communications director in June. “His behavior made me feel ashamed, frightened, and violated.”

Filner responded to McCormack Jackson’s allegations in a statement late Monday.

“I do not believe these claims are valid,” Filner said. “That is why due process is so important. I intend to defend myself vigorously and I know that justice will prevail.” Despite having admitted on the air to Univision that he “brought this on through my own personal frailties,” Filner has resisted calls to resign.

The president of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Authority has said that the scandal has already been a distraction; Filner reportedly had to cancel an Asia trip. But others have survived similar allegations. For example, just before California’s high-profile 2003 California recall election, then-candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger was able to brush away claims from several women that he had groped them.

Mr. Clinton's political survival during the Monica Lewinsky scandal was a game-changer, says Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College.

“When news of the Lewinsky affair broke, many people assumed that [Clinton] would have to quit. But through sheer tenacity or shamelessness – take your pick – he hung on,” he says. “Ever since, his example has been a source of encouragement to public figures facing accusations of sexual misconduct.”

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