The Moraga School District announced Tuesday night that its insurance company had reached a $2.85 million settlement with former student and current Cal swim coach, Kristen Cunnane, in her civil suit against the district and three former administrators over sex abuse claims.
Board President Charles MacNulty made the announcement before a sparsely attended school board meeting, and Superintendent Bruce Burns released a statement:
"First and foremost, we want to again apologize to Ms. Cunnane and to her family for the abuse she suffered as a child and for the pain it has caused," Burns said. "It is our hope that this settlement will help Ms. Cunnane continue to heal, and allow the district to continue working to educate and protect the children entrusted to us."
In a statement sent to NBC Bay Area on Wednesday, Cunnane said: “I am grateful that the district, its insurers and I have reached a solution, and that current students and staff will not be adversely affected in any way. I look forward to continuing to raise awareness around preventability and encouraging school districts everywhere to do everything they can to keep their schools safe. I also hope that sharing my experience has helped others who may be in the grips of abuse or struggling with its consequences.”
MacNulty stressed that the district's insurance company would foot the bill for Cunnane's settlement, so the general fund will not be affected. He also emphasized changes made to the district's reporting policies making them far stricter than state law.
Cunnane, who was not at the meeting, released a statement through her attorney Paul Llewellyn:
"I am grateful that the district, its insurers and I have reached a resolution, and that current students and staff will not be adversely affected in any way," she said. "I look forward to continuing to raise awareness around preventability and encouraging school districts everywhere to do everything they can to keep their schools safe. I also hope that sharing my experience has helped others who may be in the grips of abuse or struggling with its consequences."
Negotiations between the district's insurance company and Cunnane's attorneys seemed troubled in March. The district's attorneys contended that because Cunnane filed her lawsuit past the statute of limitations, the case should be thrown out. Cunnane's attorneys countered that she could not file on time because she only learned of the administrators' failings after an investigative report by the Contra Costa Times.
Public documents released by the district showed that students, teachers and parents warned former Principal Bill Walters and his assistant Paul Simonin of abuse and improper behavior by science teacher Dan Witters, but Witters was allowed to continue teaching, and no one contacted police or Child Protective Services as mandated by law.
After those warnings were given, Cunnane and at least three other girls were abused by Witters, who later killed himself before any criminal prosecution, the Times reported.
Cunnane was also sexually assaulted by another Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School teacher, Julie Correa, who was convicted and is serving state prison time.
Three Jane Does have also sued the district and the three former administrators in separate lawsuits surrounding failures in the 1990s to perform their state mandated duties to report suspected child abuse. Those cases are still pending.
To see Kristen Cunnane speak to NBC Bay Area in June 2012, click here:
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