SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KTVU) - City leaders in Santa Clara are looking to fill a vacant seat on the city council, after embattled council member Dominic Caserta resigned Tuesday amid accusations of sexual harassment. Caserta also suspended his bid for county supervisor.
The city council unanimously accepted Caserta’s letter of resignation to some applause. Afterward, more than a dozen people spoke up about Caserta’s behavior.
Emotions ran high, as some of Caserta’s accusers came forward. Former students spoke of verbal abuse and harassment.
“He screamed at me, called me disgusting and despicable telling me I had been one of his favorites now the lowest of the lows in his eyes,” said Former Student Tamara Pantic.
“Why is he still teaching? He has no place he's a sexual predator,” said Former Student Savannah Nunez.
One person held up a "times up" sign as Caserta's seat was left vacant. His nameplates and picture were removed following his resignation after nine police complaints of inappropriate behavior or sexual misconduct were filed against him. Some residents were in disbelief.
“His cowardice is on display by not showing up at any meetings,” said Eric Stroker of Santa Clara.
In a statement Caserta said, “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.”
Mayor Lisa Gillmor said Caserta made the right decision to resign.
“I think his actions have been a terrible stain on the city,” said Gillmor.
Earlier in the day, men from public safety unions in Santa Clara County gathered calling to an end to the mistreatment of women.
Now with the resignation of Caserta, the group is shifting their focus to county supervisor candidate Pierluigi Oliverio to withdraw. Oliverio is also facing accusations of sexual misconduct.
In a statement, Oliverio said, “The union bosses are trying to bully me into resigning and deny the public an independent representative who has a voting record challenging union demands. For the record, I have never touched anyone or made sexual advances.”
As for Caserta’s accusers, they said, they're now looking forward to beginning to heal.
“Sexual harassment is not a joke,” said Former Campaign Staffer Lydia Jungkind. “This is not a misunderstanding. It is a crime and it needs to be taken seriously.”
Caserta is still a teacher at Santa Clara High School. Some members of the audience questioned his employment. The deputy superintendent would only tell KTVU, Caserta is still employed with the district.