SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara city councilman at the center of sexual harassment allegations resigned on Tuesday, even though he said the claims against him are completely untrue.
The move was an about-face for Dominic Caserta, who initially refused to step down.
But this week, nine people, including high school students where he is a civics teacher at Santa Clara High and members of his campaign staff, have come forward so far to report improper behavior. In addition, there has been growing opposition from many, including Santa Clara Mayor Lisa Gillmor, who has publicly urged him to step down.
At a news conference Tuesday, Gillmor said she commended Caserta for his decision, adding that he had caused a "terrible stain" on the city. She said if he had not resigned, the council would have discussed admonishing or censuring him at Tuesday night's council meeting.
Caserta has not been charged with any crime. In fact, he insisted in his resignation letter that he is a "celebrated" teacher and the "allegations against me are false in every sense of the word." But he said that he is resigning because he has been "tried and convicted in the court of public opinion....The hallmark of a successful elected official is to effectively and passionately service his or her constituents. I can no longer do this at this time."
Caserta, who wrote that it has been his "honor and privilege to serve the residents of Santa Clara as your council member for 12 years," also took the time to list off his accomplishments: Creating a scholarship program for young people to afford college, raising the minimum wage and passing a workers retention ordinance.
But he also used his resignation to lash out at the person or people who "illegally released" his personnel file where he works at the Santa Clara Unified School District.
That leak caused him "irreparable harm," he wrote, which was made even worse when it was spread widely and a "social media circus ensued."