Various media outlets are reporting that San Diego Mayor Bob Filner has finally agreed to resign effective August 30th. Eighteen women have accused Filner, a Democrat, of sexual harassment. Alas, he did not go gentle into that good night. During yesterday’s resignation speech, the reputed serial groper whined, “I’ve never sexually harassed anyone” — an assertion that has about as much credibility as Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook.” He also alleged that he was the victim of a “lynch mob” — a poor choice of words for a man in his position to make at any time, but in especially bad taste on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

You stay classy San Diego, indeed!

Like most people, I am delighted to see him go, but for me, a question remains. How come this guy got thrown out of office, but not so long ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger, facing similar charges, coasted into the California governor’s office with few problems? After all, in October 2003, the Los Angeles Times, to its credit, published a scathing story featuring interviews with six women who claimed Schwarzenegger had sexually assaulted them:

In interviews with The Times, three of the women described their surprise and discomfort when Schwarzenegger grabbed their breasts. A fourth said he reached under her skirt and gripped her buttocks.

A fifth woman said Schwarzenegger groped her and tried to remove her bathing suit in a hotel elevator. A sixth said Schwarzenegger pulled her onto his lap and asked whether a certain sexual act had ever been performed on her.

Within days after that, a dozen more women came forward. And yet it made barely a ripple in the campaign. Schwarzenegger issued a vague, B.S.-y apology, and the matter was dropped. His political opponents apparently didn’t use it against him. Why did he get away with it, do you think? Was it his movie star charisma? IOKIYAR syndrome? At the time, I was furious, but few others seemed to care.

With the resignation of Filner, there’s one less alleged sex offender in a position of power, at least. How many more of them are out there, I wonder?

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee