Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris is facing questions over a plea deal her office negotiated that allowed a former San Diego mayor avoid registering as a sex offender and dodge prison.
During Harris’s time as California’s attorney general, her office was in charge of negotiating a plea deal stemming from allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct against former San Diego Mayor Bob Filner brought by 20 women in 2013.
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According to reports, Harris’s office allowed Filner to plead guilty to state charges of false imprisonment and battery against three women in exchange for a lenient sentence.
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Foxnews.com reports: So rather than spend five years behind bars, Filner got three months of house arrest, three years’ probation, and some loss of his mayoral pension.
It’s a deal that probably wouldn’t be considered acceptable today, critics said.
“The cultural change since #MeToo is having an impact of how prosecutors listen to victims now. I think it all comes down to whether we believe women and how seriously we take these allegations. In serious instances, you need serious consequences,” Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality and senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, told the Washington Examiner.
“Powerful people can afford high-profile legal counsel that others don’t have access to. People [such as Filner] know how to leverage the system in their favor.”
The plea deal is particularly awkward for Harris, one of the leading presidential candidates, who stressed on the campaign trail the importance of #MeToo movement.
She also slammed departing Labor Secretary Alex Acosta for taking part in the now-infamous Jeffery Epstein 2008 sweetheart plea deal that left the wealthy financier largely unscathed despite the severity of the crimes, saying the plea deal a “simple, very light pat on the hand.”
Harris’ campaign remained defiant and said in a statement that the Filner plea deal actually further boosts the California Democrat’s records as a prosecutor.
“She prosecuted a politician from her own party for sexual harassment, and he pled guilty to a felony,” the campaign’s spokesperson told the outlet.
“She was broadly praised for taking action, including by the Republican San Diego County district attorney who said it sent ‘a strong message that nobody is above the law, abuse of women won’t be tolerated and victims will be treated with respect.’”