School district blames victim for sexual assaults in 1990s

November 2, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The Moraga School District says a former student who was sexually abused is at least partially to blame. That former student is now 30 years old and says the district's comments have made her feel like a victim all over again.

"I just felt like I couldn't move for a second. I felt like I couldn't breathe," said Kristen Cunnane.

Cunnane was stunned when she learned that The Moraga School District is essentially blaming her for the sexual abuse she endured in the 1990s. She says it took years to realize it wasn't her fault.

"And then for the school district to say, 'You were negligent, you were responsible,' it's just really hard for me," said Cunnane.

The Moraga School District made its accusations in its first legal response to Cunnane's lawsuit. She and now two other former students are suing the district and three former administrators for repeatedly ignoring allegations of abuse over a two-year period. The teachers in question are Daniel Witters, who has since committed suicide, and Julie Correa, who is now in prison for raping Cunnane.

"It's my job to hold people accountable for letting this happen to me in the school district, so that it doesn't happen anymore," said Cunnane.

In its filing, the district didn't go into detail as to why it thinks Cunnane was at fault, only that "carelessness and negligence on said plaintiff's part proximately contributed to the happenings of the incident and to the injuries, loss and damages complained of." Cunnane says she has absolutely no idea what the district is referring to.

"I guess there's some legal strategy involved, but for me this isn't about a legal battle, or a civil battle or a criminal battle. This is all about me telling the truth," said Cunnane.

Retired assistant principal Paul Simonin said everything is being handled through their attorneys and had no comment.

The Moraga School District has issued a statement, saying it did not mean to cause further distress to a sexually abused former student, "The district has an obligation not to waive any potential legal lines of defense." The district says the potential defense may be abandoned as the case moves forward.


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