Dominic Caserta in Free Fall as Key Endorsers Back Out Amid Sexual Harassment Claims

Dominic Caserta has been losing key endorsements in his bid for Santa Clara County supervisor since San Jose Inside’s reporting unearthed numerous allegations of sexual harassment, bullying and other forms of misconduct by the veteran high school teacher.

His campaign website’s endorsement page went down at some point this morning as erstwhile supporters began bombarding the Santa Clara councilman with urgent phone calls and emails asking to scratch their names from the list.

The South Bay Labor Council, which also backed San Jose Councilman Don Rocha in the county race, pulled its endorsement for Caserta after an emergency meeting Tuesday just hours after San Jose Inside published its exposé.

Santa Clara County Dems withdrew support the next morning.

“We do not have the capacity to investigate or verify these accounts independently, but our executive board considered the allegations to be serious and sufficiently credible to warrant our taking action ... at our next meeting,” the local Democratic Central Committee Chair Bill James wrote in a statement to members. The statement continued: “We believe women of all ages should be free of any form of harassment, at school, in the workplace, and in any other setting.”

Some of the region’s biggest public safety unions took things a step further, rescinding their endorsement but also calling on Caserta to pull out of the county race and resign from the Santa Clara City Council.

“We are appalled by the credible allegations of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, and repugnant behavior made against Dominic Caserta by multiple campaign staff and volunteers and children he taught,” reads a letter signed by the San Jose Police Officers’ Association, the Santa Clara County Government Attorneys’ Association and the San Jose Firefighters Local 230.

“Further,” the letter continues, “we are deeply disturbed by the incidents recounted by female students, who were minors, alleging inappropriate touching, communication, sexual innuendo and leering that occurred on the school campus where Caserta works, including in his own classroom.”

Tom Saggau, a spokesman for the public safety unions, said the swiftness of the decision was unprecedented. “Everybody’s moving quicker than I’ve ever seen them move,” he told San Jose Inside in a phone call this morning. “It’s extraordinary to see these institutions move as quickly and as firmly as they have in response to this article.”

The public safety unions represent prosecutors, police and firefighters who care deeply about victims, he explained, which is why the allegations struck a chord.

“Once we read the piece, we got on the phone with [union] leadership and made a recommendation to rescind,” Saggau said. “It was a very brief conversation after that. I mean, there was no debate, there was no question of what had to be done.”

They decided that if they yanked their endorsement of Caserta and asked him to bow out of the race, it would also be reasonable to demand that he vacate his council seat.

“If he’s not good enough to be a county supervisor, he’s damn sure not fit to be a council member,” Saggau said.

South Bay Labor chief Ben Field said the union coalition also takes the allegations of harassment very seriously, and because it holds elected officials to “the highest standards of integrity,” it can no longer support Caserta.

“In light of the allegations of sexual misconduct by Dominic Caserta against students and a former employee, the South Bay Labor Council executive board has voted to withdraw its endorsement of his candidacy for Santa Clara County Supervisor,” the labor council wrote in a statement.

The Santa Clara Police Officers’ Association and Santa Clara Firefighters Local 1171 pulled their endorsements later in the day Wednesday, sending out a joint press release condemning the alleged behavior.

“We are both disappointed in Mr. Caserta and committed to strenuously and transparently seeking justice on behalf of all victims,” the statement declares.

Before publishing Tuesday’s story, San Jose Inside asked Michele Dauber of the campaign to recall Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky if she would take back her endorsement. Upon reviewing records from Caserta’s personnel file, she revoked her support. As did Bay Area Women’s March co-organizer Jennie Richardson.

Caserta’s campaign consultant, Laura Teutschel, backed out next, announcing her resignation in an email sent an hour and 20 minutes after the article went live.

In a press release posted on his campaign website Tuesday, Caserta emphatically denied the harassment allegations that came to light when the Santa Clara Unified School District leaked a portion of his personnel file and suggested that San Jose Inside’s reporting is politically motivated. But his written defense completely ignored claims of inappropriate touching by a campaign staffer who worked for him up until last week.

To date, San Jose Inside has collected scores of accounts from former students and colleagues who say that Caserta, 43, has a longstanding history of sexual harassment, bullying and deputizing students to perform self-serving tasks ranging from door-to-door campaigning to washing his car in exchange for extra credit.

The district’s own records show that Caserta was not only the subject of multiple harassment complaints, he got caught for violating testing policies and soliciting students for money to support his political endeavors.

And though Caserta maintains that he was “exonerated” or “cleared” of all wrongdoing, records indicate otherwise. In 2002, to name one example, the principal at the time told Caserta that the district found “sufficient evidence” to determine that his sexually charged comments and actions created “a hostile work environment” for students in violation of school policy.

Caserta was a no-show at work on Tuesday, according to some of his co-workers at Santa Clara High. And he didn’t make it to that evening’s council meeting, where a few critics—including NAACP Silicon Valley President Jethroe Moore—urged Caserta’s elected colleagues to censure him or press for his resignation.

Because the matter was not on the agenda, Mayor Lisa Gillmor refrained from commenting, except to say that the city takes the allegations seriously.

While Caserta was ducking reporters and official duties, his opponent Rocha posted some photos on Facebook of him yukking it up with Gillmor, who rescinded her endorsement of Caserta last summer.

Caserta and Rocha are running against five other candidates in the June 5 primary: Maria Hernandez, Mike Alvarado, Jason Baker, Susan Ellenberg and Pierluigi Oliverio.

Below is the entire statement from the San Jose police and fire unions and the government attorney association.

“We are appalled by the credible allegations of sexual harassment, inappropriate touching, and repugnant behavior made against Dominic Caserta by multiple campaign staff and volunteers, and children he taught. These allegations have been reported by San Jose Inside and the MercuryNews.

“Further, we are deeply disturbed by the incidents recounted by female students, who were minors, alleging inappropriate touching, communication, sexual innuendo, and leering that occurred on the school campus where Caserta works, including in his own classroom.

“As such, we call for Dominic Caserta to immediately withdraw as a candidate for County Supervisor and resign as a Santa Clara City Councilmember.

“As a teacher and as an elected official Caserta has held a position of trust.  A trust that multiple young women report was betrayed while they were in subordinate positions to Caserta. These young women counted on Caserta to educate them, not exploit them. They deserved better. We applaud their courage to come forward with their stories and we believe that they deserved better.

“It is clear from the San Jose Inside article that the Santa Clara Unified School District sustained at least one sexual harassment complaint against Caserta. This complaint was from a female student in his class. It is apparent he hid this pertinent information to protect his political career and to mislead those who he sought support from.

“Dominic Caserta should be ashamed of himself and instead of denying his behavior he should apologize, withdraw from the County Supervisor race, resign from the City Council and focus on repairing the harm he has caused multiple victims.

“We did not sit silently by as former San Jose Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio was sued for his unacceptable behavior. We will not be silent as Dominic Caserta denies his own. The voters of District 4 now have two candidates that should be held accountable for their horrific treatment of women and have demonstrated they are unfit to serve our community.”

And below is the full statement from the county Democratic Party.

In recent days, press accounts have reported allegations of inappropriate conduct on the part of supervisorial candidate Dominic Caserta towards former members of his campaign staff and students.

The Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee takes these charges very seriously. We believe women of all ages should be free of any form of harassment, at school, in the workplace, and in any other setting.Due to the seriousness of the allegations, the Executive Board of the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee has voted to revoke our endorsement of Mr. Caserta in the race for Santa Clara County Supervisor, District 4, effective immediately. Under our rules, this action is subject to approval by the entire Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee at our next regularly scheduled meeting.

This article has been updated.

Jennifer Wadsworth is the News Editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

28 Comments

  1. Santa Clara High School? Crickets. See SCUSD policy statement on harassment and bullying. Caserta’s personnel file is reported to contain evidence going back to 2002. Crickets. Even the disaster at Presentation set off no alarm bells. Crickets.

    • He shoulda been GONE. Why are they allowing pedophiles in the midst of our kids? Did we not just have the one teacher a few years back (what was his name? Guzman?) get caught at the same HS, also for pedophilia?

      wtf man

  2. Of course the school district is going to remain silent. Thats what they do best. The want the matter to bw quickly fixed.

  3. > San Jose Inside asked Michele Dauber of the campaign to recall Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky if she would take back her endorsement. Upon reviewing records from Caserta’s personnel file, she revoked her support.

    Well, I DIDN’T have to revoke MY support for Caserta because I NEVER SUPPORTED HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!

    Why did smarty pants virtue signaller and fake law professor Michele ever endorse the lizard in the first place? DIdn’t she know?

    WHY DIDN’T SHE KNOW? Professors are supposed to be really smart.

  4. Great reporting! Thanks for shining a light on this scumbag.

    Hopefully the high school and city council will move quickly to remove and punish him. How can a TEACHER with a history of alleged sexual misconduct still have a job???

  5. This Teuschel consultant quit. Does anyone see the other horrible fact? As a county supervisor, he could hire staff. His students, his staff, the school staff were the ones that accused him.

  6. If you have no business running for elected office, don’t run for elected office.

  7. GREAT reporting Jennifer! Thank you for exposing this creep.

    The schools are partly to blame. They should have taken some kind of action to prevent this from happening to anyone else. This guy should be in jail. Just sickening.

  8. I applaud all of these organizations which have quickly responded to withdraw support for Caserta but I wonder where was this outrage about Sheriff Laurie Smith? There was a credible allegation of sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. There was also evidence of her successful attempt to interfere with an investigation. That allegation is supported by the comments of two witnesses,

    Lest anybody think that Laurie Smith is a great champion of women, let me share some statistics.
    In the twenty years that Laurie Smith has been Sheriff she has promoted 38 people to Captain. Of that number, 26 are white males (68%). Of the others, 7 are minority males (3 Asian-American, 2 African-American, 2 Latino) (18%). The remainder are 2 white females (5%) and 3 Latinas (7%).

    Of the 16 people promoted to Assistant Sheriff, 2 are Asian-American males (12%) and the remainder are white males (87%). Of the 6 people promoted to Undersheriff, 4 were white males and 1 was Asian-American.

    Of the 59 positions filled in the upper levels of the Sheriff’s Department under Smith’s tenure, 44 are white males (74%), 10 are minority males (16%) and 5 are women of all races (8%).

    In 20 years as Sheriff, less than 10% of her top promotions have been women. The woman who claims to be the first woman sheriff elected in California (she actually shares that title with the former Sheriff of Yuba County), broke the glass ceiling and then glued it back together for all other women in her department.

    • > Lest anybody think that Laurie Smith is a great champion of women, let me share some statistics.
      In the twenty years that Laurie Smith has been Sheriff she has promoted 38 people to Captain. Of that number, 26 are white males (68%). Of the others, 7 are minority males (3 Asian-American, 2 African-American, 2 Latino) (18%). The remainder are 2 white females (5%) and 3 Latinas (7%).

      Ted:

      You must have a PhD in tribalism. You’re really on top of this.

      But, you need to inform us: which are the good tribes and which are the bad tribes.

  9. Solid reporting, Jennifer. I hope your next investigative report examines Santa Clara High administration and SC Unified School District that enabled this predator to harass and bully students for at least 16 years. Besides the serial sexual harassment, it’s ethically inexcusable and probably illegal to require students to participate in political or extracurricular activities that benefit an instructor, regardless of the time frame.

    • Give a us break. Mike Rotkin and Ryan Coonerty have done this for decades at UCSC. Knock on doors or send form letters to get college credit. What about Fred Keeley at San Jose State?

  10. > it’s ethically inexcusable and probably illegal to require students to participate in political or extracurricular activities that benefit an instructor, regardless of the time frame.

    Illegal?

    But, so what. This is the part of the movie where the law breakers bust the windows out with the barrels of their tommy guns and yell “COME AND GET ME, COPPERS!”

    Absolutely no fear of any legal consequences.

  11. I guess sexual harassment by Laurie Smith is okay for all these hypocrites. Also where’s the retraction from Santa Clara County CPOA and Amy Le? They not only endorsed this guy but renamed their entire PAC for this guy just days ago. Ah the dangers of political favors. I’m curious was this guy ever reported to the Sheriff’s office for his offenses? You’d think the schools Laurie smooth and her friends are always telling us they’d keep safe would report and investigate a sex offender. Caserta a Sheriff’s Advisory Board member or something?

    • Everyone has a theory on why Trump won.

      I think your comments point to the true reason. The constant litmus testing. This is Witchhunt, Salem-style. That was the bread and butter of the Right.

      Now the Left is the new Right, feasting on itself.

  12. A good consultant looks out for their client. Laura Teutschel quits. But did she ever manage this guy. Everyone in Santa Clara knew. Yeager had college students working for him, people drop in on him at home, but there was NEVER any problem with Yeager. NEVER. This person knew this guy is creepy and never tried to make rukes for him? No, she bails, because Laura Teutschel is an enabler.

  13. Why did Casserta receive endorsements and come within a month of being elected as a county Supervisor? It is the same mindset and misfeasance and corruption that allowed Bill Cosby to rape and molest women and girls for decades. If a school board member (now on the Santa Clara City Council with Casserta) heard “rumors” about Casserta years ago, she should have RAISED HELL to get the truth.

  14. Ben Field has the chutzpah to claim that the SBLC holds elected officials “to the highest standards of integrity”. That’s the irony of the year. What about it’s leader, Ben himself, who was suspended from the practice of law for four years due to his unethical behavior? Guess that’s OK by the rank and file.

  15. The sanctimonious SCUSD School Board went after a supposed “fraud” in a Cabrillo Middle School Student account for $25! The virtue signalling School Board insisted that the Chief Financial Officer for the District investigate! She found absolutely no wrong doing and exonerated the principal and school. Meanwhile $3 Million of federal Title III funds were not being allocated directly to the schools as required by law. Ooops. They remained silent on the greater fraud in their midst. They will remain mostly silent as they have since 2002 on the sexual harassment of Caserta. Caserta must have something on Board members or key District Administrators. Of course it could just be SCUSD milquetoast and weak knee response. Who is looking after the children?

    There should be an independent investigation of sexual harassment within the SCUSD system as it is rotten to the core and cannot and will not police itself. Additionally, there should be an independent financial audit of the school district as well because there is also a whole lot of stealing going on as well within this inbred family first organization! I know because I have experienced it!

  16. Good start! with Caserta’s resignation! Now we need to get this monster out of the classroom to protect our children! Most important task at the moment! Maybe Stan will emerge from his bureaucratic and Cover up fog and muster the courage to act on behalf of the children! Not holding my breath though!

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