Touchy Feely Filner Faces Third Lawsuit
SAN DIEGO (CN) - A disabled veteran and a nurse filed a sexual harassment claim against San Diego and its former Mayor Bob Filner, claiming Filner offered to help the disabled vet if the nurse did sexual favors for him.
In their Superior Court lawsuit, Katherine Ragazzino, a Marine, and her nurse, Michelle Tyler, claim Filner asked Tyler for sex in exchange for helping Ragazzino, who had been forced to live in her car after she was wounded during her second tour of duty in Iraq.
Filner, 71, resigned in August after 18 women, including Tyler and Ragazzino, came forward with allegations of sexual harassment .
Filner pleaded guilty in October to a felony charge of grabbing a woman in a headlock. Prosecutors filed misdemeanor battery charges accusing Filner of kissing one victim and grabbing another woman by the buttocks.
Superior Court Judge Robert Trentacosta on Dec. 9 ordered Filner to wear a GPS monitor and spend 90 days under house arrest, cut the Democrat's pension and ordered him to pay a $1,500 fine. Filner cannot run for political office during his three years of probation but avoided jail time.
In the third civil lawsuit against Filner, Tyler and Ragazzino claim the mayor came on to Tyler during a June 11, 2013 business meeting at City Hall.
According to the complaint, Veteran Affairs misclassified Ragazzino after she suffered a brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and spinal cord and nerve damage. The misdiagnosis left Ragazzino homeless and living out of her car. Tyler stepped in to take care of her.
At the afternoon meeting, Tyler and Ragazzino asked Filner to help the veteran get the help she needed. Toward the end of the meeting, Filner told the veteran and a military representative to step out of the room so he discuss the matter with Tyler alone.
"Mayor Filner then said to Ms. Tyler, 'wow, you are really magnificent' and he began to touch and then rub her arm repeatedly. He leered at her and upon seeing that Ms. Tyler was upset and afraid of what he was doing, he said, 'relax, you are incredible,'" the lawsuit states. "Mayor Filner essentially said that he would help Ms. Ragazzino if Ms. Tyler dated and performed personal sexual favors for him."
Tyler, "stunned," says Filner asked if she was married. When she told him she was in the middle of divorce, Filner said, "'good'" then scanned the personal information she had filled out on an official form and asked if he could call her for a dinner date, according to the lawsuit.
Tyler tried to make a hasty exit, but Filner was not deterred, according to the 10-page complaint.
"He persisted and said, 'if we were not here in my office I'd like to kiss you.' Ms. Tyler was fearful that he would kiss her, or worse. She told him that he should focus on Ms. Ragazzino's issues. He persisted and she again said that she had to leave and as she was exiting the conference room Mayor Filner said, 'I am going to call you,'" the complaint states.
The lawsuit, which describes Filner as the nurse and veteran's "last hope," says that when Ragazzino witnessed her friend "shaking, crying and afraid," she knew that "something was seriously wrong."
"Ms. Tyler told Ms. Ragazzino what had happened. Ms. Ragazzino became very distraught, came apart and has suffered serious emotional distress as a result of learning that her nurse would have to give sexual favors to the mayor in exchange for assistance that she greatly needed for her disabled condition and should have received after serving our country in war and becoming 100 percent disabled at age thirty-one," the complaint states.
The women say the city is liable for Filner's behavior, knew he was "unable to control himself" and had harassed other women, and should have taken "reasonable steps" to protect them.
They seek costs and damages for battery, sexual harassment, negligent infliction of emotional distress and negligence.
They are represented by Carla DiMare of Rancho Santa Fe.