4th claimant sues district over alleged sex abuse in the 1990s

MORAGA, Calif.

The claimant, who did not want their name released, charges that the district and three former employees could have prevented alleged abuse by Daniel Witters, a one-time science teacher at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School, district Superintendent Bruce K. Burns said.

The district and its school board have consented to submit the new case and those of three other plaintiffs, including one by Kristen Cunnane, for mediation early next year, Burns said.

"The Moraga School Board continues to express deep regret for what happened to these students in the 1990s," Burns said in a prepared statement.

The board has placed all four of the claims on the agenda of its Dec. 11 meeting and will discuss the status of each one, Burns said.

Cunnane and the three unnamed plaintiffs charge that the school district, a former principal, a former vice principal and a former district superintendent failed to act on complaints of sexual abuse at the Joaquin middle school in the 1990s.

Cunnane, 30, now a swimming coach at University of California at Berkeley, filed suit in September against the district, claiming that Witters and Julie Correa, a gym teacher, both abused her while she was a 13-year-old eighth grade student at the middle school in 1996.

The latest unnamed litigant filed suit against the same four defendants, but only alleged sexual abuse by Witters, according to Burns.

"Two of our former employees abused children who were entrusted to our care," Burns said. "This will be a source of sorrow and regret as long as we are a district."

In 1996, Witters was placed on leave and then committed suicide soon after several students complained to the school that he sexually abused them.

Correa is serving an eight-year prison sentence following her conviction in 2011 of rape and sexual battery charges stemming from allegations of abuse at the middle school.

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