The Moraga School District in Moraga, California alleged that a 12-year-old girl, who suffered prolonged sexual abuse at the hands of two different middle school teachers in the 1990s, was “negligent,” “careless” and “was herself responsible for the acts and damages of which she claims.”I will give you a moment to let that sink in before I continue...
Never mind the fact that sex with a 12 year-old is statutory rape -- even in South Carolina.
Never mind the fact a 12 year-old needs an adult's written permission to go on a school trip.
Never mind the fact the National Child Care Information Center says you should not leave a 12 year-old home alone for more than three hours or late at night.
Never mind the fact that a 12 year-old can't fly a commercial airliner, take an AMTRAK train, or board a Greyhound bus without a designated adult to care for them.
How the hell can you hold the child responsible for actions like this:
Cunnane filed a lawsuit against the school district, retired Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School principal Bill Walters, retired assistant principal Paul Simonin and retired superintendent John Cooley in Contra Costa Superior Court over allegations that they repeatedly ignored reports of sexual abuse. [emphasis added]What the hell is going on here? Good question. Here's what the school district claims:
Former Joaquin Moraga physical education teacher Julie Correa pleaded guilty to rape and sexual battery of Cunnane over a four-year period beginning in 1996, when Cunnane was an eighth grader. The suit also alleges that Cunnane turned to her science teacher, Daniel Witters, to report the abuse, who in turn molested her. Witters later committed suicide after the allegations against him surfaced.
“We certainly empathize with Ms. Cunnane and did not intend to cause her further distress in filing our formal Answer to her Complaint. However, this is a significant case that could have serious consequences for our school district. She is demanding several million dollars in damages. As a result, at this point in the proceedings we have an obligation not to waive any potential legal lines of defense."Oh... well that makes sense. Never mind you are sending a message to all the children who might show up in the future with similar claims that they will be dismissed because the little sexpots are responsible for bringing out those animal urges in mature adult men and women. Besides, it's not like this happens often, right?
The school district is facing a $15 million lawsuit from two more women who alleged abuse from Witters.Oh... so the girl's case has merit. Well, then, I guess we should let the school district's lawyer have the last word now that this has come to light. I'm sure they will be changing their tune, right?
The school district’s attorney, Louis Leone, defended the Oc. 24 filing, saying the school must employ “every potential defense” in such a lawsuit.You know what, screw that. If you are going to be a bone-headed, heartless snake, you don't get the last word. Let's hear what the National Center for Youth Law has to say on this behavior by members of the legal profession -- who (and this is me editorializing) -- are raping the victim all over again. According to William Grimm, senior attorney with Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law:
“I think it is reprehensible to place the blame on the young girl who was victimized. The district’s defense has to be plausible … and this doesn’t even pass the smell test, in my opinion.”
In our initial response to one lawsuit, we made a terrible mistake by including a defense that was totally inappropriate...We want to, again, apologize to Ms. Cunnane and to all victims of sexual abuse for including in our initial response to the lawsuit two defenses which have now been removed.Gee... you mean the lawyers had something ELSE that was equally "inappropriate" in their pleading? Time to find a new firm.
10:33 AM PT: Some additional clarifications on the references seems in order: I did link to the article I pulled this from rather late in the post. Here it is again. I do not have a link to the original filing, however this comment from a related story about one of the other cases is illuminating:
Claimant never suspected wrongdoing by Moraga School District until late May or early June 2012, when, for the first time, it was revealed to her that Moraga School District had received multiple complaints demonstrating that Witters was sexually abusing certain female students during the 1990-1994 timeframe and then had covered-up and concealed its knowledge after Witters killed himself in 1996. Claimant learned this information for the first time when she read an investigative news story in a local newspaper that detailed the District’s culpability. The news story was based on internal District documents that had never been previously released to the public and, in fact, had been previously concealed by the District. [emphasis added]This throws things in a whole new light. The reason the District is being sued is they actively misled people regarding the nature and scope of the problem. Without that information, people probably thought "Witters was a pedophile, but now he's dead so what more can you do but get on with your life?" The truth is the District apparently concealed important information from the community and that is why they are looking down the barrel of a gun now. This is particularly relevant given some of the commentary that has developed regarding consequences/liabilities and impacts of costly litigation on school districts.