Dominic Caserta Resigns From Santa Clara Council Amid Mounting Harassment Claims

Santa Clara Councilman Dominic Caserta has resigned from office and pulled out of the Santa Clara County supervisor race amid mounting allegations of sexual misconduct.

The 43-year-old Santa Clara High civics teacher—who was a frontrunner in the race to succeed county Supervisor Ken Yeager—made the announcement hours ahead of a public hearing Tuesday for members of the community to testify about his alleged harassment.

Nine people in the past week have filed police reports against Caserta, who has also been disciplined multiple times over the years for sexually harassing students. One of those reports involves an allegation that he pressed his clothed groin against a young woman.

But the embattled official continues to deny the claims.

“The allegations against me are false in every sense of the word, yet I have been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion without due process or recognition of my distinguished service to the school or the city,” he wrote in a statement. “Reading the papers, online reports and watching the news has been unbelievably excruciating.”

In his statement, Caserta calls out Santa Clara Unified School District for inadvertently emailing portions of his personnel file to 1,600 employees, one of whom forwarded several pages of those records to San Jose Inside.

“When my personnel file was illegally released by the Santa Clara Unified School District [May 7], irreparable harm occurred to me and my family,” he said. “Shortly after, the file was sent to the media by a district employee and a social media circus ensued with just four weeks before the primary election Political adversaries are motivated to discredit my candidacy, bury me professionally and personally. I will not let that happen.”

Santa Clara Unified has remained relatively quiet about the Caserta scandal in the past week, declining multiple requests for comment. Sources at Santa Clara High say Caserta hasn’t shown up to work in the past week and is thought to be on paid leave.

Lydia Jungkind after a news conference on Monday demanding that the billboard companies remove all of Dominic Caserta's remaining campaign ads. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

San Jose Inside broke the story of Caserta’s alleged harassment when his former campaign manager Ian Crueldad and former campaign volunteer Lydia Jungkind went public with their claims of misconduct. Jungkind, 19, said the candidate touched her thighs and hips, kissed her on the cheek and gave her unwanted massages.

Crueldad said he witnessed the impropriety firsthand.

Within hours of the allegations coming to light, Caserta’s major supporters began withdrawing endorsements for his campaign. Michele Dauber, who heads the campaign to recall Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky, rescinded her support. As did the South Bay Labor Council. His campaign consultant Laura Teutschel quit an hour and 20 minutes after the story went live.

An independent expenditure committee called Santa Clarans for Good County Government, which bankrolled Caserta campaign mailers and billboards that remained posted throughout the South Bay until this week, immediately disbanded. And dozens of current and former students flooded San Jose Inside with accounts of Caserta’s misconduct, which they say ranged from inappropriate touching to verbal harassment and abusing his position of authority.

Jungkind, who was in class at Foothill College when she heard about Caserta’s resignation, said the news brings some measure of relief. But, she noted, the police investigations are ongoing.

“I hope this will get me and other victims closure and time to heal,” she said in a text sent from class. “His press statement, unfortunately, demonstrates that he still thinks of himself as an upstanding community member. He is not. I want to see justice being done with a thorough police investigation. His behavior was harmful, degrading and I am saddened to see that he thinks he is the victim of a witch hunt.”

Foothill College, where Caserta met Jungkind while he taught political science part-time, has meanwhile asked students to come forward with any unreported misconduct.

“Through recent media inquiry, we have been made aware of sexual misconduct allegations by a Foothill student against a part-time instructor,” Foothill College President Thi Thuy Nguyen wrote in an announcement to the student body. “The college has reached out to the student to offer resources and information regarding student rights and district policies on sexual misconduct.  The college has also taken immediate and appropriate steps to respond to the allegations.”

A coalition of public safety unions, which withdrew their support along with South Bay Labor last week, held a news conference with Crueldad to put out a similar call to victims.

“As police officers, we stand for victims,” San Jose Police Officers’ Association President Paul Kelly said. “As a society, we must redouble our efforts to end the pattern of abusive behavior by men and intervene when a boss is inappropriate with a subordinate or a teacher crosses the line with his students.”

Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor said Caserta made the right decision by stepping down.

“His actions have been a terrible stain on our city,” she told reporters this morning.

As a mother with children around the same age as some of Caserta’s accusers, Gillmor said, she feels personally pained by the revelations of the past week.

“I feel sorry for what you may have experienced,” Gillmor said, addressing the people Caserta allegedly harmed. “But I also commend you for your courage. It’s not easy for anyone, especially young adults and minors, to stand up to people in positions of power. But many of you stood up. Our community should applaud your bravery.”

Now, she said, it’s time to move forward. On May 22, the council will weigh its options for filling Caserta’s seat with the rest of the year left before the end of his term.

Observers say the most consequential impact of Caserta’s departure this week isn’t on the county supes race but on the Santa Clara council. If Gillmor fills the vacant seat with someone who aligns with her agenda, she’ll go from a 4-3 to a 5-2 majority.

That worries Councilwoman Pat Mahan, who comprises a minority bloc with Councilman Pat Kolstad and, until now, Caserta.

Mahan, who declined to comment on the charges against Caserta, expressed concern about Gillmor and her allies seizing upon his resignation to advance their own political aims. With that in mind, Mahan said she hopes the city will leave the seat empty until the November election.

“There shouldn’t be any backroom deals,” she said. “We should have a free and open and honest election, because five people should not decide the future of Santa Clara.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


    • Been trying to get more info on that, but the district has kept pretty mum. Far as I know, he’s on paid leave.

  1. Please correct the statement: San Jose Unified had nothing to do with releasing any Caserta file. It was Santa Clara Unified. It would appear groundwork is being established for future lawsuits.

  2. Good start! Now we need to get this monster out of the classroom to protect our children! This is the most important task at the moment! Maybe Stan will emerge from his bureaucratic and Cover his Ass fog and muster the courage to act on behalf of the children! Not holding my breath though!

    • I’m assuming that it’ll be difficult to fire him from his teaching job. Perhaps the district could give him a “desk job” akin to what police officer’s are frequently assigned after a controversial shooting. He could maybe work in payroll or accounts payable or something. If he’s working with dowdy, middle-aged woman instead of teen-aged cuties he probably won’t harass anyone.

      • This would be an excellent idea. The fact that it has not occurred yet speaks to the cowardice of the SCUSD School Board and District Administration. I think that Caserta has significant dirt on Board Members, Stan, or District Administrators. It is truly a professional grade cesspool within SCUSD and Caserta would not have acted for all of these years in such an abominable and clearly visible fashion if he did not have real leverage.

  3. Ms Jungkind is the victim here. There is nothing heroic about Crueldad or Stroker or Teustchel, rats fleeing a sinking ship. I would hire Jungkind in a minute. I wish her happiness and success.

    • Thank you! However Ian Crueldad left the campaign and called out in Caserta’s misconduct before I did.

      • I will retract based on your comment. Fair. Crueldad wll have my respect. As for someone else, who is an”activist” who made 3000 with Caserta demanding social justice is a little much. I would hire you if I could.

    • To put PLO in the same category as Caserta is unfair and unwarranted. Dem or not, it isn’t right.

  4. So this serial predator resigned from Council and dropped from the Supervisor race – great. Good riddance. Now how about investigating why he was protected by Santa Clara High School administration and enabled to continue his predatory behavior for 16 years? In my mind, that’s nearly as reprehensible as Caserta’s behavior.

    • Amending the law to add personal financial liability (not covered by the school, the district, or insurance) of school officials who ignored behavior such as Caserta’s would go a long way toward stopping such behavior sooner. School officials let a serial pedophile and sexual harasser teach for 16 years. That’s reprehensible. They should be investigated and punished for their crimes of omission, including being barred for life from any involvement in schools.

  5. J. Byron Fleck an hour ago
    Still a teacher at Santa Clara HS since a written finding of harassment in 2002. Many have come forward since. SCHS does nothing. Now 2018, more complaints (inside and outside Santa Clara Unified) and even police reports. School District? Crickets. And you wonder why kids/parents don’t come forth? Because SCUSD tells parents and students, “We take harassment seriously…due process…blah, blah, blah.”
    THERE’S A FIRE PEOPLE! Save the kids. Sort the rest out later!
    Catholic Church, Penn State, Hollywood should have learned from Santa Clara Unified. Doing nothing about a perv in their school since 2002. Unbelievable and unconscionable.

    • I think off all the superintendents, Steve Stavis must have known Caserta the best (b/c of their joint work on behalf of Measure J). Clearly the stadium and 49ers was a higher priority of Mr. Stavis than protecting students.

    • SCUSD is very dirty and Caserta probably has some of the dirt on Stan, the Board, or the District Administration. A complete lack of courage from the toads at SCUSD also plays a key role in the lack of appropriate action against this sexual predator.

  6. Funny that anyone would credit Casera with thinking that he is the victim. Trump plays the same game. So did Bill Cosby. Caserta surely just regrets getting caught. And now it well appears that Caserta is maneuvering to get money from the school district that should have fired him long ago.

  7. In watching the streamed video of the council meeting on May 15, I was appalled to see and hear Mahan’s speech turn the focus from the courageous young people telling their stories of abuse to 1) her battle with cancer and 2) her concern about how Caserta’s vacant council seat would be filled. While I am sympathetic to Mahan’s ongoing struggle with cancer, it was agonizing to witness her complete insensitivity to those young people in front of her, advising them to have “acceptance”. What???? Acceptance would have been suffering Caserta’s abusive behavior quietly and not reporting it. In which case, how many students and/or campaign workers would have been victimized by him in the coming years?

    • Mahan is a jerk. I remember that when residents stood up to speak following a stadium measure debate she had engaged in at the Muslim Community Center, she simply looked at her computer screen and pretended to type as a way of ignoring them.

      The larger problem is that there are people on the council, like Mahan and Caserta, who think there’s some special virtue in having families going back generations in Santa Clara and that they therefore know best–when that clearly isn’t the truth. In fact, this has proven to be very detrimental to the city.

      • I agree. Mahan is nothing more than Santa Clara street trash. Her insensitivity to Santa Clara residents and their concerns is truly disgusting and hateful.

  8. I do not know Mr Caserta or any of the complaining witnesses. I find the rush to judgement frightening.
    Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  9. Curious, Laurie Smith’s CPOA shills still haven’t officially retracted their support of this guy, but worse, they’ve not even filed an amendment yet to end their PAC, Santa Clara County Correctional Peace Officers’ Association PAC Supporting Caserta for Supervisor 2018, supporting his candidacy.

    Hey, he’s only a sex offender, right “deputies”?

  10. Probably if you can’t find dirt on any politician you’re more than likely not trying very hard.
    So long Caserta! Bring on the next morally corrupt politician. Seems the Bay Area has more than enough corrupt politicians to fill any position available.Yea America!

  11. > Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor said Caserta made the right decision by stepping down.

    >“It’s not easy for anyone, especially young adults and minors, to stand up to people in positions of power.”

    Speaking of abuse of minors and standing up to people in positions of power, it seems to me that San Jose Inside has addressed the issue in the past — to some degree:
    “Human Trafficking Sweep Shows Communities Must Come Together”

    But the world news today is VERY TROUBLING:

    “Tommy Robinson arrested in England while reporting on trial of Muslim grooming gang”

    “it is too early to say where this will end, but this thought occurs to me: we have pointed out many times the fallacy of categorizing all opposition to mass immigration as “far right,” as the European press has unanimously done. This description is evidently intended to rule debate over immigration out of bounds. But the truth may be worse than that: perhaps being labeled “far right” can be a precursor to groundless arrest, secret trial and incarceration, and a ban on reporting.”

    It appears that the political ruling class in Europe is CLOSE TO SUPPRESSING NEWS REPORTS about this story because of the power of . . . ORGANIZED RELIGION!

    Not the Church of England. Not the Catholic Church. Not Christian Evangelicals. ORGANIZED ISLAM!

    The questions that San Jose Inside and the San Jose community need to ask is: “Is this occurring in out community? And are the friends of the child molesters, the child abusers, the child traffickers, and child groomers powerful enough to put people in gail, silence journalists, and erase the Bill of RIghts?”

    This is not your fathers America.

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