Going full Foppoli: Deny, Deny, Resign

The strange and terrible saga of the Windsor mayor who never got it

It has been weirdly fascinating to watch the slow motion train wreck that is the sexual abuse scandal of Windsor Mayor Dominic Foppoli. Finally, last Friday, in a what-took-you-so-long moment, Foppoli announced his resignation.

Certainly, the accusations weren’t without evidence. There was a steady drumbeat of accusers as one woman after another bravely stepped up to call Foppoli out.

In the end there were nine accusers, most of whom went full disclosure, going on the record with reporters and giving their full names. There was an email sent to then-Mayor Debora Fudge from one victim, detailing sexual assault. And critically, there was a formal police report from an incident in Florida.

And Foppoli gave every indication he was going to try to just brass this out. He denied everything. He wanted to make this a he-said/she-said story. And she-said. And she-said. And she-said.

The baffling part is what did he imagine his end game to be? Did he really think this was going to blow over? It’s become national news. I got a call last week from a Los Angeles Times reporter working on the scandal.

Foppoli’s reputation is shot. There has been no uprising of supporters, claiming he has been unfairly accused. And if anything, his attempts at a cover up have made him look even more like a sleazeball.

When Windsor Town Council Member Ester Lemus declined to support him and instead called for his resignation, Foppoli told the Press Democrat he has a salacious video of Lemus.

It is anyone’s guess what he thought releasing that video would accomplish. Lemus not only didn’t cave to the pressure, she stepped up to tell police about the video threat and added that Foppoli assaulted her in 2020. Well played Dominic.

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As base and cynical as it is, you can see what Foppoli’s strategy is in all this. It boils down to two words: prove it. You say it happened. I say it didn’t.

Which is why it was very interesting when it was revealed that former TV reality personality Farrah Abraham filed a police report against Foppoli for “sexual battery” in Florida after a March 2021 assault. The complaint was filed on April 2, but didn’t come to light here until recently.

And in an important bit of evidence, Abraham’s attorney, Spencer Kuvin, told SF Chronicle reporters that “some of the evidence provided to police were photographs of the injuries she sustained.”

Uh-oh, photos. That was apparently too much for even Foppoli. The Chronicle said “hours after” reporters emailed him questions about the Florida case, Foppoli announced his resignation.

Now, on one hand, this could be seen as no more than an ugly small town scandal. Being mayor in Windsor is largely ceremonial — although Foppoli was so thrilled with the job he sometimes wore a sash with “MAYOR” printed on it. He wasn’t a senator. Or governor.

And although it took way too long, he was ousted. His victims not only got to see him get his comeuppance, they may have some legal remedies to invoke if they want.

So eventually, it sorted out. The system works.

Except that it doesn’t.

The #metoo movement started in 2006. It became an international symbol in 2017, when actress Alyssa Milano Tweeted “me too,” in support of fellow victims of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

In ensuing years there has been a certain amount of patting ourselves on the back for taking these #metoo moments seriously. That the days when we don’t listen to an accuser, or don’t believe her story, are over.

Except they aren’t.

Remarkably a #notmetoo movement has sprung up. Confronted with complaints of sexual impropriety, some powerful men are pulling a Foppoli — deny everything and try to ride it out.

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Ex-President Donald Trump may have started it all. We’ve seen signed checks to porn performer Stormy Daniels, multiple law suits alleging sexual assault and an audio tape where he brags of improper sexual behavior.

He just denies it. And so far it has worked for him.

In fact, it has worked so well that the approach has spread. As a recent New Yorker story says “what counts has a career-ending scandal has been redefined.”

In New York, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has been accused of inappropriate behavior by ten women, including touching, hugging and forcing a kiss on one of them. The women came forward, most allowed their names to be used and gave detailed descriptions of what happened.

In response, as the Atlantic said “Cuomo Tries the Trump Defense.”

He denied everything and said he wasn’t going to resign because he was elected by the people of New York.

When the charges come up, Cuomo says he had no idea he was coming across like that. And that he now realizes “some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation.”

Yeah, but governor, you’re not the one who gets to decide what is “misinterpreted.” One of his accusers, a 25-year-old staffer named Charlotte Bennett, said she was “terrified,” and she thought Cuomo “bet on my silence and my fear” to get away with it.

We will see if he does.

But wait, there’s more.

Out in Florida, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz has been accused of sex trafficking and possible sex with a minor. Despite records of payment and two associates — one a former girlfriend — cooperating with authorities, Gaetz is going with the blanket denial.

Never happened. Don’t know what you are talking about.

It’s discouraging, especially at a time when we were supposed to be empowering victims. We told them their story matters, but don’t follow through.

There is, however, a silver lining. One group that hasn’t let these denials stand is the media. Reporters are keeping the Cuomo allegations alive. Gaetz continues to face questions.

And in the long run, this is likely to not play out well for them. There’s evidence, there’s anger and the victims seem sympathetic and reasonable.

I don’t know what is going to happen, but in a perfect world I know what I’m rooting for.

I hope they get Foppoli’d.

Contact C.W. Nevius at cwnevius@gmail.com. Suggestions and compliments gladly accepted. Complaints not so much. Twitter: @cwnevius