Former Moraga Teacher Reported Abuse, Was Punished

A former middle school teacher says she was punished for reporting sexual abuse by a colleague.

Report sexual abuse of students by teachers -- and get punished.

A former Moraga middle school teacher says that a culture of protection allowed teachers accused of sexual abuse on their students to continue preying on victims, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Carol Scozzafava, 64, taught at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School and spoke of a "cavalier" attitude by administrators regarding reports of inappropriate conduct by teachers, including a popular science teacher who committed suicide in 1996 after students stepped forward to accuse him, the newspaper reported.

Scozzafava's declaration "is consistent" with a "1990s cover-up" revealed by the newspaper that showed officials at the school went to great lengths to protect a "suspected abuser."

Dan Witters was a science teacher who in 1996 was accused of abuse. He committed suicide days after he was put on leave. He was never arrested.

Four victims have since sued the school district and former administrators --  including former principal Bill Walters, vice-principal Paul Simonin and superintendent John Cooley -- alleged to have participated in the cover-up for $40 million, the newspaper reported.

School Supt. Bruce Burns told the Contra Costa Times that the district is searching for documents that might corroborate her complaints, and that the school district has made "huge improvements" in student safety.

Scozzafava says she began reporting incidents of "weird" or inappropriate behavior in 1994, the newspaper reported. Principal Walters and others declined to act, she claims.

Instead, she was relieved of her teaching duties and encouraged to take "indefinite leave" -- which she did, the same year she won a "teacher-of-the-year" award, the newspaper reported.

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