Santa Cruz County Supervisor candidate Jimmy Dutra told a group of reporters and roughly two-dozen supporters that allegations of sexual abuse made against him last week are “completely false and untrue,” and stem from a dispute with his late father’s ex-wife over his estate.
Dutra held a brief press conference in front of Watsonville Main Library to address the allegations on Thursday.
A white Toyota pickup pulled up, and Dutra stepped out to the cheers of several supporters, who were wearing his campaign buttons. He declined to answer questions after reading his prepared statement—referring further inquiries to his attorney—before getting back in the truck and leaving.
The accusations came to light on Oct. 5, when Stephen Siefke, 29, filed a lawsuit in Santa Cruz County Superior Court, claiming that he was 12 when Dutra fondled him during a family visit to Dutra’s Los Angeles residence.
In addition to denying the claims, Dutra questions the timing, coming on the cusp of early voting.
“I find this timing not only troubling, but really telling of the bigger picture of what is going on,” he said.
Dutra said that Siefke’s number-one witness is his father’s ex-girlfriend Susie McBride, with whom Dutra recently got out of a contentious six-year legal battle over his father’s estate.
“So, let’s be clear on what this case is about,” he said. “This case is about money, and it’s about revenge. I am confident that once all the evidence is presented that justice and truth will prevail.”
The accusations, Dutra said, have taken the place of the community’s real issues.
“The fact that this election has recently become this false story, rather than talking about the issues, has been quite disrespectful to our community,” he said. “Let’s not rush to judgment. Let’s create space for the courts to do what they are supposed to do and let us get back to discussing these issues that we are facing here in our valley.”
Spokeswoman Alicia Jimenez confirmed that Dutra, who had been a teacher for Pajaro Valley Unified School District, is no longer working for the district. A board member said that he has stepped down from his position on the Board of Directors of Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance.
The outcome of the probate case to which Dutra referred was unclear Thursday.
Siefke’s attorney Dana Scruggs did not return a call.
Dutra is running for the 4th District seat on the Board of Supervisors against former Watsonville City Councilman Felipe Hernandez.