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San Diego mayor accused of inappropriate behavior by 11th woman

(From L-R) Attorney Gloria Allred, Michelle Tyler and Katherine Ragazzino attend at a news conference in San Diego, California, August 6, 20
(From L-R) Attorney Gloria Allred, Michelle Tyler and Katherine Ragazzino attend at a news conference in San Diego, California, August 6, 20

By Marty Graham

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - The number of women to publicly accuse San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of inappropriate behavior increased to 11 on Tuesday when a vocational nurse said she had been propositioned by Filner while seeking his help on behalf of a disabled U.S. war veteran.

The nurse, Michelle Tyler, told reporters that the mayor began stroking her arm and asking her out on a date while she was alone with him in his City Hall office in June - suggesting that his willingness to assist her depended on it.

The 70-year-old Democrat and former U.S. congressman has so far resisted mounting pressure to resign since his former press secretary filed a sexual harassment suit against the mayor and the city last month. He has instead entered intensive therapy.

Ten more women, including a retired U.S. Navy admiral and a college dean, have come forward in recent weeks to accuse Filner of groping them, making lewd comments or other unwanted sexual advances.

Filner has acknowledged a history of disrespectful, intimidating conduct toward women. On Sunday, he entered a clinic to undergo two weeks of behavioral counseling while taking a break from the daily routines of his office.

There was no immediate response from Filner's office to the latest allegations leveled against him.

Tyler said she visited Filner on June 11, accompanied by former Marine Katherine Ragazzino, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder from her service in Iraq.

They had gone to Filner's office asking him to intervene to help resolve administrative problems Ragazzino was having with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, for whom Tyler has worked.

According to Tyler's lawyer, Gloria Allred, Filner asked Raggazino to step out of his office, then turned to Tyler and told her, "You are really magnificent."

"He started rubbing her arm and told her, 'I will help your veteran,' and then he said, 'I want you to go out to dinner with me and spend time with me,'" Allred said of the encounter.

"I was not there looking for a date," Tyler told reporters. "I was only there looking for assistance for Katherine, an injured U.S. Marine in my care. I believe that a person in power should not take advantage of their position to gain a sexual advantage for themselves."

She added, "I felt that his rubbing my arm ... and making me feel that help for Katherine was contingent on going out with him was extremely inappropriate and unacceptable."

Allred, who also represents Filner's former press secretary, Irene McCormack Jackson, said neither Tyler nor Raggazino was suing the mayor, but that she had filed a letter of complaint on Tyler's behalf with the city attorney.

The San Diego County Democratic Central Committee and numerous elected officials of both parties have called on the mayor to step down, and he is now the subject of a recall campaign to unseat him.

Filner, through his lawyer, had earlier asked the city to pay for his defense because he never received workplace behavior training. The city has filed its own lawsuit, seeking to recover any damages it might be ordered to pay as a result of Jackson's sexual harassment claim, along with court costs and attorneys fees.

(Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Ken Wills)

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