San Diego Mayor Bob Filner once again brushed off mounting calls to resign on Friday, saying at a hastily arranged news conference that he has decided instead to enter what he described as a behavioral counseling clinic for two weeks of "intensive therapy."
The decision comes after a total of seven women came forward this week to accuse him of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances.
The succession of allegations prompted the head of the Democratic Party, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to call for Filner's resignation earlier Friday.
Filner, however, did not resign. In a bizarre public statement beset by audio problems, Filner said he would merely take two weeks off starting Aug. 5 for therapy. He described this as the "first step in what will be a continuing program" of regular counseling.
He made clear he intends to stay in office, saying he'll be getting briefed on city activities every morning and evening while in therapy. And when he returns on Aug. 19, he said, "my focus will be on making sure that I am doing right by this city in terms of being the best mayor I can be and the best person I must be."
The statement will likely offer little comfort for those who have come forward to accuse him of groping and other forms of harassment, and officials who have urged him to step down so the city can get on with its business.
"Two weeks of therapy will not end decades of bad behavior," City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer said in a statement. "Bob Filner should leave to receive the help he obviously needs, but he shouldn't take the office of the mayor and San Diego city government with him. He needs to resign and seek long-term treatment as a private citizen."
Another four women came forward on Thursday with more allegations of crude behavior. Theirs were the latest in a steady drumbeat of public accusations, starting with former mayoral spokeswoman Irene McCormack Jackson -- who on Monday claimed he groped her and held her in headlocks while making sexual comments to her.
Filner's support within his own party has rapidly eroded.
Wasserman Schultz, who was also Filner's former House colleague, on Friday called the alleged behavior "reprehensible and indefensible."
"I am personally offended by his actions and I firmly believe no employee should face a hostile environment or harassment at their place of employment," she said in a statement. "There is no place for this type of conduct in the workplace and certainly not in our city halls and public offices. For the good of the City of San Diego, I call on Mayor Filner to resign."
While not resigning, Filner did not deny the allegations against him either. He started his statement by saying his behavior is "wrong" and his "failure to respect women" inexcusable.
"It is simply not acceptable for me to try and explain away my conduct as the product of the standard of a different generation," he said.
An audio problem interrupted the beginning of the statement. After a few awkward minutes during which the mayor could not be heard, he exited the room and then returned -- and proceeded to read his statement from the beginning again.
Filner, both times, said he's apologized to his accusers and the city, but "words alone are not enough." He said he must take "responsibility" for his conduct -- by going into therapy.
This leaves Filner's future unclear. The City Council cannot force Filner from office. He would have to resign on his own volition, or be voted out in a recall election -- such an effort is underway as Filner foes attract signatures in hopes of forcing a recall.