Kristen Cunnane was "careless and negligent" and contributed to her ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of a middle school teacher, the Moraga School District claimed in its first legal response to the UC Berkeley swim coach's lawsuit against the school district and three former administrators.
The district and three other defendants claim Cunnane "was herself responsible for the acts and damages of which she claims," in the Oct. 24 legal filing.
"Carelessness and negligence on (Cunnane's) part proximately contributed to the happenings of the incident and to the injuries, loss and damages," they claim.
When she read the legal response, Cunnane, 30, said she was floored.
"It felt like I got punched in the stomach, and I stood up and thought about how young I was when I was 12 to 13 years old at the school," said Cunnane, whose suit was filed in September. "For them to use words like 'negligent' and 'responsible' just broke my heart."
...Cunnane was sexually abused by two Moraga middle school teachers in the 1990s, one of them over a four-year period. She sued the district, retired Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School principal Bill Walters, retired assistant principal Paul Simonin and retired superintendent John Cooley in Contra Costa Superior Court, saying they repeatedly ignored allegations of abuse, allowing her and other students to be victimized. The lawsuit alleges negligence, fraudulent concealment, conspiracy to commit fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and cites an investigation by this newspaper as revealing for the first time the district's knowledge of the alleged abuse.
Former Joaquin Moraga P.E. teacher Julie Correa pleaded guilty to rape and sexual battery against Cunnane over a four-year period beginning in 1996, when Cunnane was an eighth-grader. Cunnane said Correa groomed her after she confided in her that Joaquin Moraga science teacher Daniel Witters had molested her. Witters committed suicide shortly after a group of girls came forward with allegations in 1996, and police stopped investigating him criminally after that.
Last month, two unidentified women filed claims for more than $15 million each claiming the same defendants' inaction led to them being sexually abused at the hands of Witters.
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