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In a stunning downfall for a veteran local politician, Santa Clara City Councilman Dominic Caserta resigned Tuesday and suspended his campaign for supervisor amid mounting sexual harassment allegations that signaled the #MeToo movement’s potency.

The three-term councilman — a top contender for county supervisor — saw his political career upended in the past two weeks as former campaign staffers accused him of unwanted advances and impropriety and complaints surfaced at Santa Clara High School where he teaches.

“The hallmark of a successful elected official is to effectively and passionately serve his or her constituents,” Caserta, 43, said in a news statement Tuesday morning. “I can no longer do that at this time.

“As a result, I have decided to resign my seat on the Santa Clara City Council, something that is against every instinct in my body,” Caserta continued. “In addition, as a former front-runner for the Board of Supervisors, I can no longer effectively communicate the issues that I am campaigning on… Thus, I am suspending my campaign for supervisor, and will no longer actively campaign.”

Mayor Lisa Gillmor said Tuesday that Caserta’s actions were a “terrible stain” on the city and thanked him for stepping down and his accusers for their “courage” in coming forward.

Caserta is among a host of public figures since last fall to be called out by women accusing them of unwelcome, work-related sexual advances in what has become known as the #MeToo movement. Nationally, the fallen have included movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, NBC TV anchor Matt Lauer and Minnesota Democratic U.S. Sen. Al Franken.

Local figures are under scrutiny as well. A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge faces a recall spurred by critics who accuse him of going soft on sexual abusers. The Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s president is on leave and his top deputy resigned over employee allegations of sexual harassment. And one of Caserta’s rivals in the supervisor race is facing renewed questions about a settled sex-harassment claim by his former top aide.

But the mounting accusations against Caserta, a married father of a 2-year-old boy, may be more serious. Santa Clara police Capt. Wahid Kazem said Tuesday the department has received more than nine complaints about Caserta ranging from inappropriate behavior to sexual battery. An investigation is ongoing, he said, and nothing has been submitted to the district attorney for consideration of possible criminal charges.

“Something as serious as these allegations, we don’t want to rush the process,” Kazem said.

Caserta’s resignation came the same day the council was set to meet to discuss options for reprimanding him, including asking for his resignation. It was unclear whether Caserta, who did not attend the last council meeting or recent candidate forums, would attend.

The council has 30 days to replace Caserta, and will begin discussing its options next week.

Ian Crueldad, a former Caserta campaign worker who quit after alleging Caserta walked around in front of staff in nothing more than a towel, said after the councilman resigned that “the community and victims can now properly start to heal.”

“Mr. Caserta seems to have this godlike complex,” Crueldad said, adding that he was scared to come forward at first but “realized it was the right thing to do.”

Crueldad’s May 2 account to San Jose Inside about Caserta’s behavior around staffers as he ran to replace termed-out District 4 Supervisor Ken Yeager opened a floodgate of complaints. A week later, Lydia Jungkind, a 19-year-old German exchange student who worked on Caserta’s campaign after taking his Foothill College class, reported that Caserta gave her unwanted kisses and massages, called her “sexy” and put his hand on her thigh.

The same week, Santa Clara High School mistakenly published Caserta’s personnel file to the entire staff, which included accounts of complaints by students dating back to 2002. Allegations included unwanted hugging, inappropriate comments, flirting and running his hands through a girl’s hair and mentioning he had an erection.

Caserta denied the allegations in a May 8 statement, calling them “simply false and made up.” He claimed the district investigated those reports and “exonerated” him, and accused his political foes of sabotaging his career.

But the city that same day asked anyone with such complaints about Caserta to contact the Santa Clara Police Department, and reported Monday that nine potential victims have filed police reports, a figure that Kazem said has since grown.

Caserta, however, remained defiant in his resignation statement Tuesday.

“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 or recognition of my distinguished service to the school or the city,” Caserta wrote. “Political adversaries are motivated to discredit my candidacy, bury me professionally and personally.”

Caserta’s campaign had shed major endorsements in recent days. A group of parents and students rallied Monday afternoon for the removal of his campaign billboard along Stevens Creek Boulevard. And Caserta’s resignation came as local public safety unions called for him and fellow candidate Pierluigi Oliverio — the former San Jose councilman accused in a former aide’s 2013 lawsuit of sexual harassment — to drop out of the supervisor race.

“As a society, we must re-double our efforts to end the pattern of abusive behavior by men and intervene when a boss is inappropriate with a subordinate or a teacher crosses the line with his students,” Paul Kelly, president of the San Jose Police Officers Association, said in a statement. “If these allegations are true, Oliverio and Caserta should be ashamed and must be held accountable.”

Oliverio, who has battled with public worker unions over pensions, called the comparison with Caserta unfair. The former aide who in 2013 accused Oliverio of calling her “bitch” and making sexually suggestive remarks later dropped him from her lawsuit, which the city settled for $10,000. Oliverio has generally denied her allegations, but not commented on them specifically, citing a 2015 agreement he and the aide signed to not disparage one another.

“These men wearing badges and these union boss lawyers know perfectly well that there is no similarity to the former councilman from Santa Clara,” Oliverio said in a statement Tuesday. “Unfortunately these bullying tactics will only lead to the loss of the public’s trust and respect in the women and men they claim to represent.”

It is unclear how the Santa Clara council will fill Caserta’s seat. But Councilwoman Patricia Mahan said it should be filled through an election and not an appointment.

“I think it’s very, very important that it not be an appointed position,” Mahan said. “When do the people get to speak?”

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