PD Editorial: Foppoli must step down now

Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

Dominic Foppoli must go.

Four women accused Windsor’s mayor of sexual assault and rape in a disturbing and detailed account published Thursday by the San Francisco Chronicle. The allegations span 16 years, with the most recent occurring in 2019.

If Foppoli does not resign immediately, his Town Council colleagues should pursue any and all options for removing him from office.

These are allegations, but each of the women confided in friends, kept journal entries or made #metoo social media posts that buttress their stories.

None of the women is acquainted with the others, according to the Chronicle, yet there’s an unmistakable pattern to their experiences. Each of them says Foppoli pressured her to drink alcohol or took advantage while she was badly inebriated.

Adding to their credibility, three of the women allowed the Chronicle to identify them by name, despite being victims of sexual assault.

None of the women reported Foppoli to police, but Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said his office is exploring whether it has jurisdiction over any of the incidents. District Attorney Jill Ravitch said her office also is examining the allegations, and she urged any potential victims to contact the Sonoma County Family Justice Center.

There were warnings. One victim’s friend put Foppoli’s name on a list of “hookups to avoid” shared with members of the Santa Rosa Active 20-30 club. Foppoli was a member, and one of the allegations involves an incident at a club event in Reno.

In 2017, three years into Foppoli’s first term on the Windsor Town Council, then-Mayor Deborah Fudge received an email accusing Foppoli of misconduct with women who rented the guesthouse at one of his businesses, Christopher Creek Winery. “I cannot stay silent when a molester rises in social and political rank,” the email said.

The council took no public action, and the email stayed hidden until the Chronicle obtained it through a California Public Records Act request.

If the council failed, so did The Press Democrat.

Alexandria Bordas, one of the Chronicle reporters who broke the story, first investigated allegations against Foppoli while she was working at The Press Democrat. Her editors determined that the information wasn’t solid enough to publish and let the story drop.

The Press Democrat editorial board — which operates separately from the newsroom — endorsed Foppoli for Town Council in 2014, for reelection in 2018 and for mayor in 2020. On each occasion, we failed to adequately research Foppoli’s character and conduct. We apologize to our readers, especially to any Windsor voters who cast their ballots based on our advice.

Foppoli, 38, has risen quickly in local social, business and political circles. He ran unsuccessfully for state Assembly while he was still in college and served on the Windsor Planning Commission before he was elected to the council. He was just selected to represent Sonoma County on the Golden Gate Bridge board of directors.

Foppoli isn’t commenting on the Chronicle’s report. His lawyer issued a denial of the women’s allegations on his behalf.

Foppoli is entitled to defend himself if he chooses to do so. But no one is entitled to hold public office. And there is no place for sexual predators in public service, private business, community organizations or anywhere else.

At best, Foppoli’s continued presence on the Town Council will be a distraction. The residents of Windsor deserve a mayor who has their full confidence — and isn’t credibly accused of the worst kind of sexual misconduct. Foppoli must go.

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Editorials represent the views of The Press Democrat editorial board and The Press Democrat as an institution. The editorial board and the newsroom operate separately and independently of one another.

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