Kristen Cunnane Files Civil Suit Against Moraga School District and Former Administrators

The suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Kristen Cunnane sued the Moraga school district Tuesday for failing to protect her from sexual predators when she was a student at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in the mid-1990s. The civil suit alleges intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy to commit fraud among other complaints.

In addition to the school district, the suit is against retired Joaquin Moraga  principal Bill Walters, retired assistant principal Paul Simonin and retired superintendent John Cooley, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Now 30, Cunnane is a Walnut Creek resident and the assistant head coach of the Cal women’s swim team. Between 1994 and 2000, Cunnane was molested by science teacher Dan Witters and then raped, stalked and abused by her P.E. teacher Julie Correa. Witters killed himself in 1996. Correa was arrested in 2010 and is serving an eight-year prison term.

Don Keyotee September 28, 2012 at 01:10 AM
Yet, the media constantly reports about priest abuse while almost ignoring abuse by educators. Parents need to worry about their kid's educator much more than they need to worry about the kid's priest.
Don Keyotee September 28, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Since kids spend so much time with educators, we should hold school boards and administrators to the absolute highest standards when it comes to protecting our kids. Often school boards and administrators don't seem to meet even the most minimal standards.
M.Red September 28, 2012 at 01:18 AM
@Chris: Nope, I am not a lawyer, nor do I know anything about legal strategy. I was speaking from psychological perspective about the process of trauma and memory recall. What I was referring to as ludicrous was the implication that Cunnane was dragging her feet, or "choosing" to address this issue over a decade later. Trauma victims can not control when memories come back to them.
William September 28, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I appreciate a husband coming to the defense of his spouse, I would likely do the same. But I think Nicholson deserves some credit for raw honesty in this thread. What he is saying is unpopular given the ugly nature of the crime, but he is asking the same questions many of us are thinking and articulating concerns about this case a lot of us share but wouldnt have the nads to say out loud.
DC / Lafayette September 28, 2012 at 02:31 AM
Personally, a little too ''raw." The "shock value" that he obviously took delight in was unnecessary given the sensitivity of the topic. I also don't personally think he is asking the the questions "many" of us are asking. If you really know this story...some of his questions are just completely out of line.
Chris Nicholson September 28, 2012 at 02:57 AM
I agree with the first part of your post. I have been too callous in my tone and language.
Dr Green September 28, 2012 at 05:28 AM
Chris...you must agree that being a troll is beneath you. And yet that is what you are in this thread.
hctap nioj September 28, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Chris I agree with your self assessment. Words matter. You can have the best ideas in the world but if you package them with a rude, insensitive coating, people won't listen. Moderate voices on this site have been mocked and ridiculed to the point that they left or rarely contribute to the discussion anymore. Look no further than the pitiful state of the "Local Voices" section. The comment stream is in even worse shape. It now consists of little more than opposing ideologues screaming at each other. As far as I can tell they kind of deserve each other. Signed, I Now Keep This Site on Read-Only Status
Deborah September 28, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Of course Witters denied the allegation. Abusers are also pathological liars, who can look someone straight in the eye, and with the most loving and sincere tones of voices, lie the most egregious lies. Therefore, to correct the de facto enabling of abuse, the flow chart should be to always believe the target first, and legislation needs to be put into place that is abuse allegations turn out to be false, the liar (false accuser) will be 100% liable for the other side's legal fees, in addition to liable for pain and suffering for inflicting the target with false accusations. The same liability would apply to anyone who abused, and lied by denying they abused. Teach these rules to Kindergartners, and lying would be decreased, greatly.
Deborah September 28, 2012 at 03:24 PM
In the majority of times, justice delayed is justice denied.
Eastofthehills September 28, 2012 at 05:08 PM
@Scott; I have no relation to Ms. Correa as I did not go JM at that time or have a child attending during her tenure. My concern is as a tax payer being asked to foot the bill and another attempt at opening an pandora's box. I dislike legal trickery and that is my issue with this case. If MSD had clear knowledge of Ms. Correa's actions and taken no action or transfered her to a new school I would be in favor of a settlement/restitition. However stringing together a slippery slope case with a lot of IFs in it isn't right to do which is why I am opposed to it. I need to see a direct relationship of the district actions not a third or fourth degree of seperation between the district and the acts that occured.
Ryan September 28, 2012 at 05:32 PM
@East: You dislike "legal trickery"? Please explain. Since you believed that the DA had prosecuted the case and gave Correa a "gift" and that Correa had a 5th amendment right to rape and should not have been compelled to report Witters I breathlessly wait for you next missive.
Eastofthehills September 28, 2012 at 07:02 PM
@Ryan; You need some clarification: Correa has a 5th amendment right not to incriminate herself in crimes she has committed. i.e. if you and a co worker stole from a your employer your reporting of a coworker would invariably incriminate yourself in the same criminal action there for from a criminal standpoint you shouldn't be required to do so. The action in question is not Ms. Correa's rape, but her mandatory reporter status as a teacher. When I say legal trickery I mean trying to estabish a 3rd degree or 4th degree of connection between the district and Correa's actions for liability purposes. For illustrative purposes: I am suing X corp because I was sexually harrassed by employee A who resigned after several reports of his behavior became public. I never told X corp about employee A and myself; I allege I told employee B who later used her knowledge of my experience with A to rape me when I worked at company Y.... And I never reported my experiences with employees A or B until after both had left company X. Minimal three degrees of seperation if not more.
Deborah September 28, 2012 at 07:12 PM
We all have thoughts that are wrong. No one bats a thousand. Not expressing those wrong thoughts is not a lack of nads. It's exercising self control and it's an exercise in reining in one's cruel nature. Long term reining in abuse (via harsh penalties for the lack of reining in abuse in the past), is way more important than short term money. In the long run, everyone will benefit, and there will even be more money....in the long run.
DC / Lafayette September 28, 2012 at 07:53 PM
@ East "When I say legal trickery I mean trying to estabish a 3rd degree or 4th degree of connection between the district and Correa's actions for liability purposes. For illustrative purposes: I am suing X corp because I was sexually harrassed by employee A who resigned after several reports of his behavior became public. I never told X corp about employee A and myself; I allege I told employee B who later used her knowledge of my experience with A to rape me when I worked at company Y.... And I never reported my experiences with employees A or B until after both had left company X. Minimal three degrees of seperation if not more." My question...for illustrative purposes. She did report the abuse of "employee A" to a current administrator. The administrator in turn sought out "employee A," had a discussion and even revealed to "employee A" the name of his accuser. Is that not part of the audacity of which we are speaking? I could be incorrect.
Andrew L. September 28, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Just to be clear, here is how mandatory reporting should work: "On Monday morning, a parent with information about the alleged relationship told an Albany High School teacher, who relayed the information to the school's principal, Ted Barone, [Superintendent Marla] Stephenson said. Barone told Stephenson about the allegations. District administrators placed Izumizaki on administrative leave and contacted police and child protective agencies." http://www.contracostatimes.com/bay-area-news/ci_21643109/albany-teacher-arrested-suspicion-lewd-conduct-child
Chris Nicholson September 28, 2012 at 10:40 PM
DC/Laf: East has intuited the crux of the metaphysical legal concept of "Proximate Cause," which requires a reasonably direct/foreseeable nexus between the trigger event and the claimed injuries. Even if we assume that, but for Walters' failure to make an immediate report to the cops (and assume that such failure was legally negligent or worse), Correa would have never abused the victim, this is not enough for liability for ALL resultant injuries to attach to Walters' (let alone the District). I am not endorsing East's conclusions, just pointing out (in case any remaining readers did NOT go to law school) that his framework is how the law actually works.
Eastofthehills September 28, 2012 at 11:10 PM
@Chris I can repect the fact that you understand the argument. I would also note that the restitution Correa was ordered to pay was $8000 in restitution by the courts. As she was the primary party and therefore primarily responsible I would say that the amount granted by the city for this case should not exceed that. That being said I'm sure the lawyers fees on both sides will easily exceed this. @DC - You miss a very basic concept of or legal system enshrined in the 6th amendment; the right of the accused to confront their accuser. I ask will ask you the following: If you are not allowed to know who is accusing you of criminal acts how can you defend yourself against them?
Xavier September 28, 2012 at 11:25 PM
There was a poster using the name Mcgruff the crime dog that commented previously only on this story. The tone of his comments were strikingly similar to some here and there was clearly an axe to grind.....has patch become the place to spin and make your case anonymously?
Ryan September 28, 2012 at 11:43 PM
Xavier Don't think that speaking out against shady school boards, callous commenters, and standing up for a victim amounts to an "axe to grind". Since you added nothing of substance her but your cleaver detective work linking mcgruff to my comments. I retired that anonymous handle. What spin and axes am I grinding on here?
Xavier September 29, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Interesting reaction, I didn't link you to Mcgruff in my comment.
Ryan September 29, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Ah I see you were just trolling. Say hello to Chris and EastofReality when you see them.
Xavier September 29, 2012 at 02:01 AM
The fact that you outed yourself totally makes my point and I actually wasnt even thinking of you/Ryan when I wrote that. Patch can be a land of make believe where you can be Mcgruff, Ryan...whomever you choose.Those with an agenda can come on here and make proclamations, accusations, etc. that are factual, fictional or something in between without any accountability. My point was I don't take much I read very seriously in the comment section and I don't think others should either.
Deborah September 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Wrong answer, Xavier. Perpetrators bank on the fact that in the old days, it was considered impolite to air truth, to either counter or expose them. Silencing anyone confronting them in opposition with truth, is one of their favorite tools, while they often hypocritically conduct smear campaigns based on lies, as a way to discredit the opposition to their wrong-doings in preemptive strikes. "Lies make it half way 'round the world, while the truth is still getting its pants on." ~ Winston Churchill (A man of a by gone era, may the truth go much faster today.) But yes, it is (unevolved) human nature to put blinders and earmuffs on, in order to ignore uncomfortable truth, in order to rationalize why it's okay to do nothing to help targets of abuse. "I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." ~ Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize recipient I understand your thesis is that because there's no accountability here, the comments could be fictional. Sometimes, it's only anonymity that frees someone to be able to speak truth. I believe the vast majority of commenters on the Lamorinda Patch have enough integrity to do so. I hope others do not take your advice to ignore the valuable discourse here. "Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies." ~ Elie Wiesel
Deborah September 29, 2012 at 12:20 PM
East: I agree in concept that the accused should be able to know all truth, such as who is accusing them. However, I don't think the 6th amendment took into consideration the special subset of crimes involving adult on child abuse, and it did not incorporate the dynamics of abuse, either. At the time the 6th amendment was written, women could neither own land nor vote, and children were to be seen and not heard. Therefore, overlayed onto the axiom of the 6th amendment should be some protections for victims, especially child victims of adult perpetrators, who are revictimized by adults in authority positions with their silence and inaction. (Please see my comments advocating for harsh penalties for anyone perpetrating false accusations. All liars should be punished harshly. Lies of omission are still lies.)
Andrew September 29, 2012 at 03:39 PM
This subject has already used its 15 minutes of fame, next subject pleez
DC / Lafayette October 01, 2012 at 05:00 PM
@Xavier I Think there is both here (mostly anonamous, of course). There is the blow hard, arrogant, speaks with authority and all knowing who refuses to consider opposing views and gets hugely defensive if they are not agreed with and revered (some are getting defensive just reading this). Then, there are plenty of composed, rational, interesting and interested posters who appear to want to engage in a real discussion and accept debate. My biggest frustration with these conversations...when folks post as though they are a professional authority on a topic, throwing statements out, especially on the psychology of a topic...yet they have no credentials, just want to be heard and believed...anonamously. I think it is unfortunate, as Deborah states, if "anonymity frees someone to be able to speak the truth." We can all detect plenty of fictional comments....I think many of us are getting better at ignoring the fictional distractions and attempting to continue on with a good discussion. That's just my take.
sammy November 03, 2012 at 07:22 AM
Scott and Kristin, you are amazing role models for the community at large. Setting the precedent that this behavior by school administrators and teachers is unacceptable has been very needed in this community for some time! Your strength and detail in attending to this cause is amazing. WE many are behind you! You truly are amazing Kristin.
Deborah November 03, 2012 at 03:17 PM
In agreement with sammy.
lovelafayette February 25, 2013 at 03:52 PM
Cal swim coach Kristen Cunnane will share her inspiring tale of surviving child sex abuse in the Moraga school district in an hour-long show on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Tuesday. She will be featured on "Our America with Lisa Ling" at 10 p.m. Pacific time on Tuesday February 26, 2013 on OWN. OWN can be found on Comcast channel 220; DIRECTV 279; DISH Network 189 or 885; and AT&T U-verse 170 or 1170.


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