Flanked by Council Members Debi Davis, Patrick Kolstad and Kathy Watanabe, Mayor Lisa Gillmor commended Dominic Caserta for resigning his seat on the Santa Clara City Council at a press conference this morning, while saying “his actions have been a terrible stain on our city.” The City Council, Gillmor said, could now “begin the process of moving forward.”
When asked if Gillmor was concerned about a ‘rush to judgment,’ Gillmor replied, “Those who made the allegations did so on their own. We [the Council] are looking at his violation of our city ethics code.” Gillmor said the Council was not privy to the police reports.
Gillmor was also asked how it was that the Council didn’t act on claims that were made years and decades ago, referring to complaints in Caserta’s personnel file. “I can only speak about our performance as City Council, she said, which she described in her press statement as “acting quickly and responsibly.” Any other questions would have to be answered by the school district, she said.
The Mayor said that the Council will “explore options” for filling the now-vacant seat at the May 22 meeting. Gillmor also said the Council was going to put a censure procedure in place. Presently, there isn’t one.
Caserta also “suspended” his campaign for the County Board of Supervisors and published a statement this morning, saying that under the current circumstances he could no longer serve his constituents or advocate for the issues he was running on, and that serving Santa Clara residents “has been the highlight of his life.”
He also pointed to the release of his personnel file by the school district, “illegally,” “just four weeks before the primary election,” as evidence of political opponents efforts to discredit his candidacy and “bury me professionally and personally.”
“I would never do anything to harm the health …of my family, my students, my school district or our city,” he said in his statement. “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.”
Following the City Hall press conference, the San José Police Association PAC held a press conference in front of City Hall demanding that Pierluigi Oliverio likewise withdraw from the supervisor’s race and commending those who have made allegations against Caserta.
Oliverio was the subject of a 2013 sexual harassment lawsuit filed by staffer Danelle Fedor when Oliverio was a San José City Council Member. Oliverio was subsequently dropped from the suit and San José settled with Fedor.
When asked whether as a law enforcement officer Paul Kelly—someone drilled in due process—thought that the morning’s media events were a rush to judgment, Kelly replied “that would be true if we didn’t have some insight into the cases.” According to “the details we have there may be investigations that may be criminal.”
“If we did the things at our jobs that Mr. Oliverio did, we’d be fired,” said Kelly.
20 years ago, Caserta used to teach at Aquinas High School in San Bernardino, CA over. He was highly recommended and brought on board by the Principle, Father Andrew Sotelo, S.J., One evening, I was passing my daughter’s bedroom when I heard her talking on the telephone. She was telling whoever was on it, she didn’t want to tell him the color of her underwear. I was shocked and demanded to know who was on the phone. My daughter told me it was Caserta, a teacher at her high school. She was 15 years old at the time. The next morning, I called the office and demanded that Caserta call me, which he did on his lunchtime. He told me that he “loved” my daughter and that he was sure we’d get along great, and that he wanted to marry her! I told him he was f___ing crazy. I then called the principal and demanded a meeting. When my wife and I went in to meet with Sotelo, there was a nun at the meeting as well. When I expressed my outrage at Caserta’s behavior, the principle told us that my daughter was pursuing Caserta and it was all documented and that she was never go into his classroom again. My daughter’s school friends all knew what was happening and confirmed her side that said Caserta pursued her relentlessly. They said he frequently told my daughter to come into his class after hours, even though he was not her teacher. He went into her student file to get our phone #, he even sent her a letter saying he wanted to f___ her! I threatened to go to the local newspaper, but the principle said it would stop. I think Caserta left after that year. Some years later, Andrew Sotelo was on an episode of 60 minutes for sexual harassment. Look up his name on Google. He currently is a student advisor at Culver City School District.