Mayor of Windsor accuses council member of assault

The mayor of the California wine country town of Windsor is maintaining his innocence and refusing to resign after five woman alleged in a newspaper report that he sexually assaulted them in separate incidents dating back 17 years.

Mayor Dominic Foppoli denied the women’s claims, writing in a statement that he is "completely innocent of the conduct alleged" in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Foppoli said Saturday night that the allegations were driven by politics, and he made clear that he would fight growing calls from elected officials that he step down.

"Despite the clear political and social machinations that are outwardly and obviously driving the effort to put my head on a spike, I never imagined I would be pursued as a trophy to warn those who dare to have a positive impact in public service regardless of ideology," Foppoli wrote.

As of Saturday, five women had come forward to say Foppoli assaulted them in incidents from 2002 to 2019. 

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office opened a criminal investigation, though many of the alleged incidents may fall outside the state’s statute of limitations.

The mayor said he had never "pressured any female to engage in sexual conduct with me," but did not address any of the specific accusations, which include forced oral copulation and rape.

On Sunday, Foppoli accused Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney and Windsor County Councilperson Esther Lemus of sexually assaulting him and others, and demanded she resign.

Lemus, a married woman, had supported Foppoli in his campaign for Mayor, and the two had two sexual interactions, according to Foppoli. 

In a statement provided to KTVU Sunday, Foppoli said of Lemus "this admitted cheat clearly will go to any lengths imaginable to advance her political career and get what she wants – power."

"I am not saying I am a victim or claiming a "me to" moment for myself or for men in general. That idea is ridiculous," Foppoli said in the statement. 

"Mrs. Lemus has led the charge in asking for my resignation and it wasn’t until I defended myself and told the truth regarding these manufactured and baseless accusations against me that she showed the degree in which she is, at the very least, complicit in the witch hunt driven by these continuing attempts at assassinating my character," Foppoli said.

Foppoli also provided a 2 minute video showing Lemus speaking in favor of electing him to mayor, an endorsement of sorts, however it was not clear who she was speaking to.

The Associated Press contributed to this KTVU report.