Politicians, political groups calling for his resignation

(Editor's note: please see bottom of page for latest updates on this developing story)

Original story:

In an article published by the San Francisco Chronicle, Windsor mayor Dominic Foppoli is alleged to have sexually assaulted four women starting in 2003.

The article, by Alexandria Bordas and Cynthia Dizikes, outlines both Foppoli's personal and political history and the instances of assault outlined by four different women, three of them on the record with their names — Rose Fumosa, Sophie Williams and Allison Britton.

All of the alleged victims were acquaintances of Foppoli’s, either through his winery and brewery businesses or his civic volunteer work. In each case outlined in the Chronicle story, both Foppoli and the victims were reported to have been drinking in a social setting, prior to the alleged assaults.

In a statement to The Chronicle, an attorney for Foppoli said the mayor “categorically denies having engaged in any of the abuses described.”

In addition to the accusations against Foppoli, there is also an allegation that Councilmember Deborah Fudge was made aware of the issues when Foppoli was her vice mayor.

Fudge is currently out of the county getting a hip replacement surgery, per her social media account, but before going into surgery this morning released this statement over social media.

“I am very sorry to be unavailable to anyone in Windsor today, but I am out of the county having major surgery this morning. I am troubled, confused and shocked/surprised by what I read this morning. I am taking the allegations seriously. I will get back to you when I can,” her statement reads.

Foppoli appears to have deleted all of his social media accounts, except for his Twitter account, which appears to be inactive, as of Wednesday morning.

Calls for Foppoli’s resignation have been echoing around social media following the allegations. Both Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Assemblymember Jim Wood, D-Santa Rosa, took to Twitter to call for his immediate resignation.

Both Ariel Kelley and Osvaldo Jimenez from Healdsburg’s city council have called for his resignation or ouster as well.

“This is horrifying. These allegations are numerous, extensively corroborated, and extremely serious,” Kelley said in a social media post. “Mayor Foppoli must resign immediately and if he doesn’t the Windsor Town Council should take the necessary action to remove him.”

Jimenez, who is the vice mayor of Healdsburg, added his own thoughts. “The closely corroborated report on the predatory behavior of Mr. Foppoli by the SF Chronicle is alarming and honestly just gross. There should be no one with this type of misconduct serving any public office. I want to commend Alexandra Bordas and Cynthia Dizikes for their great journalism giving voice to the many women who have been violated by this man.  These acts of violence against women in our community have no place here in Sonoma County. The Town Council of Windsor should force Foppoli to resign immediately if he does not on his own. This type of behavior has no place in Sonoma County or anywhere and we should cast it out! I believe all the women that have come forward.”

Chris Rogers, mayor of Santa Rosa, also called for Foppoli’s resignation. “Dominic needs to resign, or his voters need to remove him. I understand that everyone in this country is innocent until proven guilty, but these allegations are credible, specific, documented and horrifying. I felt sick reading this article and had to take multiple breaks — I can only imagine how the victims felt and continue to feel,” Rogers said on social media.

Groups calling for Foppoli’s resignation include the Wine Country Young Democrats and Indivisible Petaluma.

Chair of the county board of supervisors Lynda Hopkins also called for Foppoli’s resignation and stated she regretted “both my former endorsement of Mayor Foppoli, and the vote I cast on Tuesday to advance the recommendation of the Mayors and Councilmembers to appoint Mayor Foppoli to the Golden Gate Bridge District. Had I known about these allegations, I would neither have endorsed him nor voted in favor of his appointment. I believe Dominic Foppoli should step down as Mayor, and as Sonoma County’s Golden Gate Bridge District representative.”

However, Hopkins also stated that she was not speaking in an official capacity as the board chair or a supervisor, but as “a woman, a survivor, and a mother of two daughters and one son ... As someone who believes that we cannot and must not accept this kind of behavior in our community, let alone in our leaders.”

This is an ongoing story that will be updated as more information comes available.

Updated at 1:40 p.m.

At 1:30 p.m. the town of Windsor released its official statement:

“The Town and Town Council are aware of the shocking and horrible allegations that have been made against Mayor Foppoli. The conduct described in the article published by the San Francisco Chronicle is not acceptable nor does it reflect the values or standards we hold ourselves to as a community. The Town has referred the allegations to the Windsor Police Department for further investigation and is in the process of evaluating its duties and options under the circumstances. We ask for the community’s trust that the allegations are being taken seriously and that appropriate actions will be taken in response.”

At 1:15 p.m. Cloverdale councilmember Melanie Bagby joined the calls for Foppoli to resign:

“I join my fellow mayors and council members from across the region calling for the immediate resignation of Dominic Foppoli, Mayor of the Town of Windsor. While every citizen in this country is innocent until proven guilty, elected officials should be held to a different standard. These allegations, as laid out in an exemplary piece of investigative journalism, show a pattern of predatory behavior that cannot be ignored or accepted and make it impossible for him to continue as mayor.

“Too often, women like those who have come forward here, feel that they can't speak up, no one will believe them, and that it won't change anything. I want them to know that I believe them, what happened to them DOES matter and is not their fault, and that by speaking up they are stopping the cycle of violence. Standing together as advocates, we can stop sexual predation and the culture of male entitlement that is a blight on our society and our shame.”

Update at 1:15 p.m.

County supervisor James Gore, whose district includes Windsor, has now released a statement also, discussing his own accountability.  

“After reading the SF Chronicle story this morning regarding Mayor Foppoli, I reflected deeply upon the women who came forward to share their stories of assault. Thank you for your bravery on behalf of our community. I am deeply sorry you have been hurt. I am also sorry that our systems failed you. Sitting in my position, we have to dig deeper into the people we put into power. I endorsed Mayor Foppoli for his position on the Windsor Council. In learning about these stories, he should step down from representing the community that he has deeply hurt. I hold myself accountable for not digging deeper into his personal behavior before endorsement, and commit to doing deeper diligence in the future. My family and I have been at many community events with Mayor Foppoli, and he supported events and initiatives my wife ran in support of small business owners. My wife and my daughter saw the article this morning, and it was excruciating for my wife and I to explain to our 9 year old that someone she called a leader hurt so many women. The amount of angst we are all feeling from this story is nothing in comparison to the trauma felt by these women and their families. We are beyond words, and again stand behind the women who have come forward with their stories.”

Update 12:25 p.m.:

Fellow councilmember Lemus calling for resignation 

Windsor Councilmember Esther Lemus has made a public statement regarding the allegations against Foppoli, calling for him to resign.

“As a mother, a Deputy District Attorney and Windsor Town Councilmember, I find the recent San Francisco Chronicle story both distressing and horrifying. I am saddened for the victims and disgusted by the allegations against Dominic Foppoli. In order for our Town to continue to function properly, I request the resignation of Dominic Foppoli from his position as Mayor immediately. My heart goes out to all the courageous women who have come forward,” she said on her Facebook page.

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