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New Suits Allege Moraga Schools Hid Science Teacher's Abuse

The complaints follow the civil suit filed by Kristen Cunnane in September.

Three plaintiffs filed complaints in January alleging that Moraga school officials concealed the scale of a pedophile teacher’s sex crimes against female students in intermediate school in the 1990s.

The new complaints — following up on notices of claim filed last fall — come from women who allege that Daniel Witters abused them when they were students at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School where Witters taught science, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

"We tried mediation — it didn't work," said Judith Yedidsion, a lawyer for one of the anonymous plaintiffs, 'Jane Doe No. 3.'  "I can see my client is getting worse."

In September, Kristen Cunnane filed a civil suit against the Moraga School District and former officials alleging that they failed to protect her from sexual predators when she was a student at the school.

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 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.

The Moraga schools chief, Bruce Burns, told the Chron that the district is working with the plaintiffs to find a resolution that he hopes will help them find “healing for the pain they have suffered.”

The Jane Doe No. 3 lawsuit, which is attached to this article as a PDF, cites newly discovered school district documents from the 1990s in which administrators were informed of sexual harassment allegations against Witters. This included a two-page letter to the school newspaper in which students cried out for someone to speak to Witters because "too many people have been hurt by this powerful science teacher."

The students wrote: "Almost every time a girl walks by, [Witters’] eyes can be traced to her body, staring at her legs in a suggestive way. When a girl approaches him to ask a question, Mr. Witters often purposely drops a pen on the ground, giving him a way to look up the girl’s skirt/shorts... Even if a girl is NOT wearing suggestive clothing, he still glances at her as if she were nude. One friend felt severely violated when Mr. Witters 'checked her out.' This is not a comfortable environment to learn in."

lovelafayette February 25, 2013 at 03:48 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 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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