April 25, 2021

USA: Embattled Democrat Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli To 'Step Back' After Multiple Rape And Sexual Assault Allegations. He Is Not Resigning, And Maintains "Full Innocence Under The Law."

NBC Bay Area published April 12, 2021: Multiple women are accusing Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli of sexual assault. He denies the claims and refuses to step down. Thom Jensen reports.
KPIX CBS SF Bay Area published April 14, 2021: Windsor Council Demands Resignation Of Mayor Dominic Foppoli Amid Sexual Assault Investigation. Members of the Windsor City Council joined outraged community members in calling for Mayor Dominic Foppoli to resign as he faces sexual assault allegations from at least half a dozen women.

San Francisco Gate
written by Joshua Bote, SFGATE
Friday April 16, 2021

Following a San Francisco Chronicle investigation that revealed rape and sexual assault allegations from four women against Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli, the mayor announced today that he would “step back from an active role” — but not resign.

Despite near-unanimous demands from his colleagues in Windsor, multiple Sonoma County mayors, California state representatives and Windsor residents to resign — which were clearly on display during a notably tense Town Council meeting Wednesday that ended in his abrupt departure — Foppoli emphasized in his statement that he has no plans to resign despite an ongoing investigation by the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

“Through prayer and in speaking with residents over the course of this week, it has become clear to me that the Town Council will not function at the level expected by its citizens if I remain actively involved, given the strong reaction to the allegations against me,” Foppoli said in a Friday statement to multiple news outlets.

The allegations laid out in the initial Chronicle investigation include groping, forced oral copulation and rape. Since its publication, two more women, including Windsor Town Councilmember Esther Lemus, have come forward with sexual assault allegations against the mayor. (SFGATE and the San Francisco Chronicle are both owned by Hearst but operate independently of one another.)

Shannon McCarthy told the Chronicle days after the initial report that she was sexually assaulted by Foppoli dozens of times over the course of a three-year relationship that began in 2001. His rise to political prominence in recent years, she said, eventually forced her to relocate out of the North Bay last year. (SFGATE does not typically identify victims of sexual assault. Three of the four women in the Chronicle's original reporting agreed to be identified, as did McCarthy.)

Lemus, who recused herself during Wednesday’s meeting, said she was allegedly sexually abused by Foppoli. Her allegations were made in response to claims by Foppoli that Lemus coerced him into a relationship.

"Though I maintain full innocence under the law, I have decided to step back from an active role as Mayor until the formal investigation is complete," Foppoli's statement continued. "I do not want my presence or participation to create a distraction or cause any additional hurt for our residents."

He confirmed that Windsor Vice Mayor Sam Salmon will serve as mayor in his temporary leave as the investigation into the allegations continues, though noted that he is available to “sign resolutions” and take part in meetings in order for the Town Council to fulfill quorum.

While his term concludes in December 2022, a recall campaign was announced Thursday. According to KGO, hundreds of residents have already signed in support of the recall. Tim Zahner, the executive director of the Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau and the head of the recall effort, told SFGATE that his decision is not enough and that he must completely resign for "the good of the residents of the Town of Windsor."

Salmon also did not immediately respond to a request for comment from SFGATE, but told the Chronicle that Foppoli did not reveal his decision to “step back” to Salmon or Town Councilmember Debora Fudge prior to issuing the statement.

“Everyone has been hopeful and can’t comprehend why he is staying,” Salmon told the Chronicle Friday. “None of his reasons have made any sense.” Foppoli concluded his statement: “Thank you to everyone who continues to have faith in our political and judicial processes and in our wonderful Town."

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