Woman sues Moraga School District for past abuse

Kristin Cunnane
September 26, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A Walnut Creek woman sexually abused by two Moraga middle school teachers in the 1990s is now suing the school district and former administrators. She says they ignored signs of abuse years before she was targeted, allowing more students to become victims.

Kristen Cunnane filed the lawsuit in Contra Costa Superior Court against the Moraga School District and several retired administrators for, as she said, turning a blind eye to sexual abuse and allowing teachers there to prey on students. Cunnane shared the letter that triggered her filing the lawsuit.

"It took the air out of my lungs and I felt like I couldn't breathe," said Cunnane.

In the letter, dated June 12, 1994, a former Joaquin Moraga Middle School student outlined being abused by a teacher.

"They knew. They knew that Mr. Witters was abusing students. There were other letters and other memos and documentation that he was abusing students and getting away with it. They just created a culture and environment where that was acceptable," said Cunnane.

She says the principal and other administrators ignored the abuse. At the time, Cullane was a sixth grader. Two years later, she too became a victim. She turned to a trusted P.E. teacher, Julie Correa.

"She watched as this other person got away with it and so she had free rein to do what she wanted to do," said Cunnane.

Cunnane says she was abused and threatened by Correa hundreds of times until she was a senior in high school. In 2010, she told police, and the teacher, Correa, is now in prison.

Cunnane is currently the assistant head coach of UC Berkeley's women's swim team. She felt she needed to do more to protect others from abuse.

"It's in the news right now with Penn State and it's in the news with the Catholic Church and to me, that's a good thing. It doesn't mean that the sexual abuse is just starting. I think it's been a problem and I'm glad that people now are holding the actual abusers accountable and the people who allowed the abuse to happen," said Cunnane.

I spoke with Moraga's school superintendent Wednesday afternoon. He said they had just been served the lawsuit and at this point, had no comment. Cunnane says she wants all schools to stop and take notice and stop abuse they know about.


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