Council Member and Santa Clara High School Teacher Accused of Sexual Misconduct, Concerned Santa Clarans Call for Censure

By Alissa Reyes — Posted May 14, 2018

Dominic Caserta, a three-time Santa Clara City Council Member, Santa Clara High School political science teacher and Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors District 4 Candidate is drowning in constantly increasing accusations of sexual misconduct.

 

A Timeline of Events

On May 2, San Jose Inside published an article sparked by a drafted resignation letter that was anonymously sent to Inside. A former campaign staffer for Caserta’s race authored the letter, which included details on how Caserta had walked around his campaign office—also his home—with just a towel. Inside did not make the letter public.

On May 7, the Santa Clara Unified School District leaked Caserta’s personnel file—according to the press release on Caserta’s campaign website. The file was emailed to 1,600 district employees as well as Inside, who forwarded it to at least one of Caserta’s endorsers.

In Caserta’s press release, published May 8, Caserta denied the allegations, claiming they are “false and made up.”


The same day, May 8, Inside published another article detailing more harassment claims against Caserta. The article included an interview with a different campaign volunteer, who said Caserta sexually harassed her, and also pulled from the leaked personnel file with links to redacted versions of documents from the personnel file. The article also mentions that the Santa Clara Police Department was called to Santa Clara High School concerning accusations against Caserta’s at least twice in 2002.

The next day, on May 9, the City of Santa Clara sent out a press release urging Caserta’s victims to come forward and contact the Santa Clara Police Department. Additionally, the release says the City is on the search for records regarding the accusations. According to the release, it seems that incident reports may not have been filed when the police went to Santa Clara High School. But, “If the Police Department has any public records in its possession, it will release them when it identifies them.  If there are no records, the Police Department will confirm publicly that it can affirmatively make that finding,” said the press release.

Additionally, on May 9, Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor released her own statement:

“The recent accusations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior against Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta are troubling to members of the City Council and the people of our community. Not only is he an elected official, but he is a Santa Clara High School teacher as well. So the fact that the allegations are from young adults and minors is deeply disturbing.”

Her statement goes on to say that the City Council would address the issue at the next Council Meeting that will be held on May 15 at 7 p.m. with a police presence.

In a follow-up press release on May 10, the City confirmed “that potential victims have filed reports with the Santa Clara Police Department.”

And then came the windfall of unendorsements. In a press release, the Santa Clara Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee said, “The Chamber PAC is withdrawing their endorsement of Candidate Caserta until such time due process has been completed and the facts are publicly disclosed.”

On May 13, the school District finally released a statement:

“The district and its board of trustees strive to provide a safe workplace and classroom environment and takes harassment allegations very seriously. Each case is investigated thoroughly and appropriate disciplinary actions are taken.”

They also shared the District’s sexual harassment policies, processes, and procedures.

On May 14, the Mayor released an updated statement. According to her statement, nine police reports have been filed.

“[At the May 15 Council Meeting], the City Council has the opportunity to take the first step to condemning Councilman Caserta for his actions. I hope we will do so. We will consider officially admonishing him and start the process to censure him and ask for his resignation,” the statement said.

“Councilman Caserta will have the opportunity to defend himself and answer his accusers if he wishes,” the statement continues. “But for the sake of our community, I hope he will choose to resign immediately.”

Also on May 14, the Mayor held a press conference at City Hall Council Chambers. The Weekly went to the conference but was not seen by the Mayor.

 

The Response

Since the Inside’s May 8 article, many other news agencies have picked up the story and Inside has also published more articles on the issue.

At the May 8 Council Meeting—Caserta was absent—several public presentations were made about Caserta and calling for his censure and calling for an end to his campaign for County Supervisor.

“He’s just got to go,” said one presenter.

“I am here to ask for his resignation,” said another presenter.

Rev. Jethroe Moore II, President of the San Jose National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the City Council should censure Caserta until the facts surrounding the allegations come to light.

In KPIX’s 6 p.m. segment on May 9, KPIX speaks with both campaign staffers and Caserta. In the interview, Caserta apologizes:

“If anyone perceives that I did anything to violate [their] trust, I apologize monumentally,” Caserta told KPIX.

Caserta gave a similar statement to NBC Bay Area during their 6:30 p.m. segment on May 9 and said he would not drop out of the race, “when these allegations are falsehoods.” The Mercury News also quoted Caserta echoing these sentiments.

If Caserta does indeed stay in the race, the primaries are on June 5.