Jury Rules Harassment By Ex-San Diego Mayor Not 'Severe' Enough To Award Damages
This one of those times where we had to look of the legal definition of "legal definition," to see what "is" is, really, and to make sure you didn't have too big a lunch.
A jury on Wednesday sided mostly with former San Diego mayor Bob Filner in the sexual battery and harassment case brought against him by a city employee, one of over a dozen women who have accused Filner of inappropriate sexual contact, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Stacy McKenzie, city parks manager at the time of the alleged 2013 assault, claimed Filner grabbed her breasts and buttocks at a park on one of her days off.
According to Fox5 San Diego, the city refused her request for $500,000 to settle the matter, prompting her civil lawsuit, which claimed McKenzie suffered mental and emotional damage.
The jury, however, failed to see it that way. Answering a series of verdict questions as to the allegations of battery, they did not believe Filner had touched McKenzie with the "intent" of being harmful or offensive.
In regards to harassment count, the jury affirmatively answered the question asking if Filner had harassed McKenzie simply because she was a woman.
So, Bob Filner is technically responsible for harassment. Not so fast, though.
Asked if that harassment was "severe or pervasive," the jury answered "no."
McKenzie, who was seeking $150,000 in damages plus about $20,000 for two years of therapy, was awarded nothing.
At a press conference afterward, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said the defense had failed to prove Filner's actions constitutes the legal definition of harassment. He also said photos of McKenzie on posted social media while on vacation, as well as joking emails that circulated about the incident, proved she was not too traumatized by the incident.
McKenzie's attorney lamented the verdict, saying the fact that the incident happened off-the-clock might have accounted for the jury's decision.
McKenzie, who still works for the city, said she was disappointed, but that she was glad she brought of the issue to light.
The "arrogant" ex-mayor—so-called by the plaintiff's attorney during the civil trial—tenaciously held on to his seat when allegations began surfacing about his abusive behavior towards women in 2013. He finally resigned and in October of that year pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and felony false imprisonment in a criminal trial. He avoided jail time by giving up his pension and agreeing to never again run for office, in addition to three months house arrest and counseling.