WINDSOR (CBS SF) — Mayor Dominic Foppoli, who has been accused by six women of sexual assaulting them, is no longer associated with his family’s Christopher Creek Winery and his brother has asked him to step down from his elected post.
On Sunday, Windsor council member Esther Lemus became the sixth woman to come forward and alleged she was sexually assaulted by Foppoli.
Joe Foppoli, Dominic’s brother, met with a group of demonstrators gathered outside the gates of the winery Sunday. While the winery was not open to the public, Joe Foppoli — who is taking over his brother’s CEO position at the winery — said he wanted to discuss the developments over the last week with them.
“I appreciate them being here, it’s their right,” he told KPIX 5. “Even though we are not open as a winery, I wanted to engage and listen to them and their concerns.”
He said his brother has been removed from his role with the winery.
“Essentially Dominic is no longer a part of Christopher Creek, he is not here,” Joe Foppoli said. “He will not be one of the owners. He is no longer an employee of Christopher Creek…I asked him to step down and yes he agreed.”
He said he was not aware before the story of the alleged sexual assaults broke in the San Francisco Chronicle last week of any misbehavior on his brother’s part.
“I was not aware of anything that’s going or has gone on in the past allegedly,” Joe Foppoli said. “While I won’t comment on the on-going investigation I believe our elected officials should be held to higher moral standards. For that reason I feel my brother, Dominic, should step down as mayor of Windsor.”
Foppoli is well known and well connected in the community and is sometimes referred to as a “prince of Wine Country.” But support for him has quickly diminished even before an official investigation gets going.
Sonoma County Sheriff Mark Essick said his department has opened an investigation into the events.
Local congressmen Jarred Huffman and Mike Thompson have already called for his ouster. Eight local mayors have signed a letter demanding his resignation and the League of California Cities has stripped him of his leadership post. And it is in his own town that many people are drawing a hard line.
“I think there are people in the city government that did know things about it — maybe not as dramatic as was really going on — but I don’t know how they could not know, to tell you the truth,” said Windsor resident Charles Jaeger.
The fervor intensified with a Santa Rosa Press Democrat story Sunday in which Dominic Foppoli and Lemus accused each other of sexual misconduct during alcohol-infused encounters.