7 women sue over alleged sexual assault by former Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli; winery and service club named in case
Seven women have joined in a lawsuit accusing former Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli of sexual assault and alleging his Healdsburg winery and a local service club facilitated his misconduct.
The 30-page complaint, filed Monday in Sonoma County Superior Court, claimed Foppoli used his “power, connections and alcohol to prey upon dozens of women in Sonoma County.”
“We have patiently waited for some measure of justice from the criminal justice system, which has continued to be delayed, all while we have continued to suffer the emotional toll of Dominic Foppoli’s crimes against us. He has continued to live his life normally, while we have continued to process what he did to us and others,” the women said in a joint statement Tuesday.
“Today, we are taking charge of seeking justice in the Civil Court as we approach the one year anniversary of the beginning of this investigation.”
The lawsuit had not been served to Foppoli or the other defendants and was not available to The Press Democrat until Tuesday afternoon due to electronic filing problems at the Sonoma County courthouse.
The lawsuit also alleges that Christopher Creek Winery, owned by Foppoli and his brother, and the Santa Rosa affiliate of Active 20-30, a national service club, profited from Foppoli “luring Plaintiffs to events held at or on behalf of” the two institutions.
The seven women are seeking damages, civil penalties, attorneys’ fees and injunctions prohibiting Foppoli from coming within 100 yards of the plaintiffs and releasing any information about them, including photos, videos or recordings.
In a statement via text message, Foppoli maintained he is innocent of the crimes alleged in the lawsuit, including assault and battery, domestic violence and gender violence.
“I look forward to being fully cleared soon so that my family, my friends, and my town can move past this,” he wrote.
Other representatives of Christopher Creek Winery, including Foppoli’s brother, Joe Foppoli, did not respond to requests for comment.
The lawsuit is the first civil action against Foppoli in connection to public allegations made since April 2021 by 13 women who said Foppoli sexually assaulted or mistreated them. He has denied the accusations and said that he has not committed any crimes.
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office handed its criminal investigation to the Attorney General’s Office last month. There have been no updates in that case, an office spokesperson said Friday.
Foppoli, 39, resigned as Windsor mayor after weeks of defying widespread and nearly universal calls from constituents and local, state and federal lawmakers who demanded his resignation after the initial allegations came to light in a San Francisco Chronicle investigation published a year ago this Friday.
Traci Carrillo, a Santa Rosa attorney who represents the seven women in the lawsuit, had indicated last month that civil action was likely to follow the conclusion of the criminal investigations in Sonoma County.
Carrillo on Tuesday told The Press Democrat that she and her clients had decided to go forward with a civil case even as criminal proceedings dragged on.
“It’s time that they be held accountable,” she said of Foppoli and those accused in the lawsuit of enabling him. For the victims, filing the lawsuit brings “a feeling of taking some control to get a measure of justice,” she said.
The seven allegations of sexual assault outlined in the civil complaint span 20 years and include allegations of groping, rape and other sexual misconduct. While the women are named only as Jane Does, the accounts in the complaint are similar to incidents that have been reported by both the Chronicle and The Press Democrat.
Among his known accusers is Windsor Town Council Member Esther Lemus, who told The Press Democrat her council colleague sexually assaulted her and subsequently sought to attack her in the media when she brought her allegations to law enforcement. One of the assault allegations in the lawsuit matches the details of the account Lemus shared with The Press Democrat.
Lemus did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday, and referred calls from The Press Democrat to Carrillo.
Many of the women brought their stories forward and agreed to be named in media accounts in an attempt to shed public light on Foppoli’s alleged wrongdoing, Carrillo said. But in the legal proceedings now unfolding, they would remain anonymous, she said, declining to confirm their identities.
“They’ve had a lot of backlash,” she said. “They have a statutory and constitutional right to protect their identity, and so we’re going to continue to do that at this point.”