Prosecutors say they won’t file criminal charges against former Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta, a high school teacher who ended his campaign for higher office and withdrew from public life after several women accused him of sexual misconduct.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced the decision Wednesday after a month-long investigation.
“After a thorough review and legal analysis of Dominic Caserta’s behavior toward a number of girls and women in recent years, our office has concluded that there is insufficient evidence to file criminal charges,” Assistant District Attorney Terry Harman said in a statement to reporters. “However, crime or not, it is unacceptable to treat women with anything less than respect and dignity.”
Lydia Jungkind—a 20-year-old German exchange student and one of Caserta’s most vocal accusers—said she has mixed emotions about the news but believes some justice was served by the consequences of her speaking out.
“I stand by what I said,” she told San Jose Inside in a phone call. “And the number of people who came forward speaks for itself.”
After a leaked personnel file obtained by this news outlet in May showed that Caserta was disciplined by Santa Clara Unified School District multiple times since 2002 for sexually harassing students, at least 15 people filed police reports against him. One of the accusers said Caserta pressed his groin against her butt. Another accused him of exposing his genitals to her when she was a minor.
As a result of the public backlash, Caserta is no longer in the classroom at Santa Clara High or any of the colleges where he also taught, no longer running for Santa Clara County supervisor and no longer on the council.
Caserta’s former campaign manager Ian Crueldad, who this past spring became the first to publicly accuse the councilman of impropriety, said the lack of criminal charges doesn’t mean the allegations were untrue.
“Because people decided to step up, that shows that victims and people in the community have decided not to tolerate any inappropriate behavior,” he said.
In a statement to the Mercury News, Caserta denied any wrongdoing, saying he’d like to move on and focus on his family’s well-being.