City Park and Recreation Department district manager Stacy McKenzie said she was approached by Filner who asked her out on a date, then followed up with inappropriate sexual advances at the April 21 Clairemont Day at the Bay event at DeAnza Cove in Mission Bay.
“We’re asking for $500,000 in damages,” said McKenzie’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, who also commissioned the creation of an animated sequence re-creating the alleged incident that was posted on the U-T San Diego’s website.
Gilleon said the events at the park were witnessed by two park rangers.
Noting use of computer animation is “fairly cutting edge for sexual-harassment lawsuits,” Gilleon said it “tells Stacy’s story and is just a starting point,” adding “we downplayed some of the more severe acts by Filner … The story and animation will be developed as depositions occur … Sexual harassment usually occurs behind closed doors, when no cameras are around. We hope the employers out there who regularly sexually harass their employees with impunity will think twice when they realize their actions may end up on a screen in front a jury someday in the form of an animation.”
McKenzie said she was the 14th woman to initially come forward several months ago with accusations of sexual harassment by Filner, which ultimately led to his resignation as mayor in August. She said she decided to take the next step and file a lawsuit because she hoped it would have a “chilling effect” on sexual harassment.
“If this ordeal and what’s being played out in the media detours at least one man — or woman — who might be a sexual harasser and make them change their ways, or makes one sexually harassed victim know they didn’t do anything wrong, that it wasn’t their fault, then I will have accomplished something,” McKenzie said.
Of the purpose of the computer animation, McKenzie said, “Hopefully, it will curb this behavior, change things a bit so people aren’t so afraid to speak up.”
Noting it was her belief that Filner and others in public office have “done this for awhile (harassment),” McKenzie said she hoped coming forward would make it easier for others in similar circumstances to “speak up without fear of it reflecting on their jobs or on job promotions.”
Filner attorney Harvey Berger declined comment, while another of the former mayor’s attorneys, Jerry Coughlan, could not be reached for comment.
At least 20 women have come forward alleging Filner made inappropriate advances toward them during his years as a political officeholder.
Mckenzie’s lawsuit is the second to be filed against the ex-mayor whose former communications director, Irene McCormack Jackson, filed a $1.5 million suit against him and the city. Filner has also pleaded guilty to sexually harassing three women while mayor. He was sentenced to probation and three months home confinement.