Watsonville City Council member and 4th District Santa Cruz County Supervisor candidate Jimmy Dutra says a civil lawsuit claiming he molested a 12-year-old when he was 30 is related to a six-year estate battle he recently finalized with his late father’s “disgruntled girlfriend.”
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A resolute Jimmy Dutra, surrounded by a vocal group of about 30 friends, family and other supporters, fired back against what he called his accuser’s “completely false and untrue accusation” Thursday afternoon outside Watsonville City Hall.
The Watsonville City Council member and candidate for 4th District Santa Cruz County Supervisor was greeted with cheers, hugs and handshakes when he stepped out of his white Toyota 4x4, then moved toward the assembled group of local media.
When he was 12 years old, on a trip to Southern California with family friends, Stephen Siefke says his life changed in...
He said he was innocent of charges levied by Stephen Siefke in a civil suit filed one week earlier — and focused on what he believes will be a key piece of information when the case first heads to court Feb. 3.
Dutra said the primary source in Siefke’s suit, Susie McBride, is the “disgruntled girlfriend” of his late father, Jim Dutra Sr., and that he recently settled a six-year dispute over his estate with her.
“So let’s be clear on what this case is about: money, revenge,” Dutra said. “I have confidence that when all the evidence is presented, justice and truth will prevail.”
Dutra began by decrying the timing of the accusation, which landed just three days before votes could be cast.
The way “it was dropped onto our community, I find this timing not only troubling, but really telling of the bigger picture of what’s going on,” he said. “This allegation has taken the focus off the real issues facing our community.”
Dutra refused to take questions afterward, but said questions could be sent to his lawyer, Christopher Panetta.
After the news conference, Dutra’s mother, Terry, told Lookout she believed voters need to focus on the issues and that her son’s good reputation in the community would be restored.
“This is a total cheap shot,” she said.
Siefke detailed to Lookout on Monday his account of a night in Los Angeles when he was 12 and Dutra was 30. He said Dutra molested him, and he’s struggled to deal with the trauma for 17 years.
He said his main intent with the timing of his charges is to affect Dutra’s career as an educator.
Lookout confirmed this week that Dutra no longer works for Pajaro Valley School District as a substitute and after-school teacher. He also no longer serves as board chair for Pajaro Valley Prevention and Youth Assistance, another board member confirmed Wednesday.
A current member of the Watsonville City Council, who served as mayor in 2021, Dutra is now campaigning for the open 4th District supervisors seat, up for election Nov. 8. He continued to keep his focus there Thursday.
“The fact this election has recently become about 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’re supposed to do.
“And let us get back to discussing the issues that we are facing here in our valley. I know I’m innocent. I look forward to being vindicated by the court’s legal processes and continuing this campaign and winning in November.”
In a filing in Santa Cruz Superior Court this week, Jimmy Dutra is accused of abuse in Los Angeles in 2005, when Dutra...
McBride couldn’t be immediately reached for comment. After watching a video of Dutra’s statement Thursday, Siefke said the following through his Santa Cruz-based attorney, Dana Scruggs:
“When I returned to Santa Cruz County and was faced with Jimmy’s campaign for supervisor on a daily basis, and then discovered that he was a middle school teacher, I had no choice but to come forward by filing a public lawsuit. I am extremely pleased that the Pajaro Valley school district has at least initially recognized the risk to children from having Jimmy in its classrooms and has removed him from having access to middle schoolers like I was when Jimmy molested me. I have complete faith in our judicial system that the truth of what Jimmy has done will be decided correctly by a judge and jury in our community.”