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New Sex Abuse Claim Against Moraga School District

The new claim will be part of mediation process with other claims, district announces; school board again expresses regret.

The Moraga school district announced Tuesday that it had received a new claim alleging that a former student was sexually abused by the late Dan Witters, a former teacher, in the 1990s.

This adds to two notices of claim and a lawsuit filed earlier this fall alleging that district administrators could have prevented sexual abuse of students by district staff.

"The Moraga School Board continues to express deep regret for what happened to these students in the 1990s," a press release from Superintendent Bruce K. Burns stated. "Two of our former employees abused children who were entrusted to our care. This will be a source of sorrow and regret as long as we are a district."

Witters, a science teacher at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, killed himself in 1996.

The new claim involves a claimant who requests confidentiality. In the other two claims filed by "Jane Does" plus the lawsuit by former student Kristen Cunnane (now a Walnut Creek resident), the district has agreed to begin mediation early in 2013. The new claim will also be part of the mediation process, Burns said.

"All of these claims and the Cunnane lawsuit will be placed on the agenda for the board’s Dec. 11 meeting," Burns said. "The board will, to the extent possible, discuss the status of these matters at that time."

Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop November 28, 2012 at 02:42 AM
"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive...." - Sir Walter Scott Like Brook Benton sang so beautifully, "It's just a matter of time...."
Chris Nicholson November 28, 2012 at 01:28 PM
So: Two at $15M, plus one at $10M plus Cunnane. Call it an even $50M (and counting). I wonder what the District's policy limits / co-pay / deductibles are that they can so cavalierly say "don't worry-- our insurance will cover it." What real "assets" does the district have? Beyond cash on hand to fund this year's operating expenses and a smaller reserve, I assume the main assets are the land on which the schools sit. Even this is likely insufficient to pay current claims at face value (not to speak of future claims) unless the town allows a variance for condos on the land. At what point does the district declare bankruptcy and start over (can they?). Surely civil judgments can't reach future funding streams.
June November 28, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Chris, and what value do you estimate for these claimant's lives? These are real people who have been living with real pain. There is no compensation great enough for that, monetary or other. Disgusting.
ajb November 28, 2012 at 04:49 PM
surely the district has liability insurance which must have a large value.
Chris Nicholson November 28, 2012 at 05:28 PM
@June: What discount from the ~$50M in claims would you find non-disgusting? Or must we pay 100% of what is demanded to avoid being disgusting? Would you require that the victims prove the District's legal liability, or should a statement of harm sufficient for recovery? @ajb: The district clearly has insurance, I just wonder if it is enough. These claims are getting quite large and are growing.
Bailey Lee November 28, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I thought it was, "It's a rainy night in Moraga...it's raining all over the world."
Eastofthehills November 28, 2012 at 06:11 PM
Talk to an actuary; they can probably tell you. I expect the insurance company to take over the defense since the board seems intent on falling on it's sword. They sent the wrong message when they took options off the table.
Claire November 28, 2012 at 08:28 PM
You don't have to be an actuary to realize insurance money does not just fall from the sky. It is hard to imagine that future liability policies, if the school district can get and pay for them, will not be written to exclude this type of issue. Since two of our three local school districts are facing this, then what?
Phil M November 28, 2012 at 10:04 PM
What a tragic event for those former students and their families. ________________________________________ Find a Career College near you, www.americolleges.com
lovelafayette December 02, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Does liability insurance really cover you if you knowingly break the law? There have to be some exclusions. And doesn't the insurer not the insured get to decide if this is settled or contested?

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