Trigger warning for sexual abuse.
Starting in 1996 and continuing for four years, Kristen Cunnane was sexually abused by two of her teachers at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School. One, PE teacher Julie Correa, began sexually and emotionally abusing Cunnane after she came to her for help after being molested by science teacher Dan Witters. Cunnane has sued the Moraga School District and the principal, assistant principal, and superintendent at the time for negligence, fraud, concealment, and infliction of emotional distress for ignoring allegations of abuse and allowing her and other students to continue to be abused. The school district has replied that it’s actually her fault.
Moraga School District said in their response that Cunnane “was herself careless and negligent in and about the matters alleged in the complaint,” that “said carelessness and negligence on [her] part proximately contributed to the happenings of the incident,” and that she “was herself responsible for the acts and damages.”
Cunnane was 12 years old when the abuse started.
In 1994, a girl wrote a letter to principal Bill Walters, reporting that she had been molested by Witters in 1990. Walters showed the letter to vice principal Paul Simonin and to Witters himself, but no further action was taken. Other students also reported being abused, and Correa wrote a memo in 1995 noting that she had been told and had personally witnessed Witters touching students inappropriately. Correa’s abuse of Cunnane started a year later. Witters killed himself in 1996 after seven more girls reported molestation; Correa was arrested in 2010 and charged with 23 felony sex crimes, pleading no contest to four of them. The school and school district’s involvement in its full extent was revealed by an investigation by a local newspaper earlier this year.
The school district’s attorney asserts that blaming Cunnane for her own molestation in their response is just standard operating procedure for a civil case.
Louis Leone said “every potential defense” must be raised in such legal filings, “since failure to do so results in a waiver of this defense.”
“It is imperative that all possible defenses be raised at this point in time. As more facts become known, the district will then reassess its defenses,” the Walnut Creek attorney said.
In other words, they’re not actually saying that it was Cunnane’s fault; they just had to claim in their initial response that it was her fault, because otherwise they wouldn’t have been allowed to claim during the case itself that it was her fault. And what if it turned out that 12-year-old Cunnane did actually get herself molested? The defense has to be prepared.
In other other words, two teachers at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School victimized Cunnane, then the administrators betrayed her, and now her betrayers are accusing a 12-year-old of causing years of her own sexual and emotional abuse because it’s their only possible defense against their indefensible acts, and we already knew they don’t care who gets hurt as long as their own asses are covered.