Two women have filed a $15 million lawsuit against a California school district accusing them of enabling sexual abuse by a former school teacher.
The women, whose names were not released, say they were sexually abused several times by Dan Witters, a science teacher at Joaquín Moraga Middle School in 1996.
Witters was placed on administrative leave after the allegations were made and committed suicide two days later, even though he was never charged with the crimes.
Scene of abuse: Joaquín Moraga Middle School, where science teacher Dan Witters allegedly abused students in the 1990s.
Both women now accuse the Moraga School District of having received multiple complaints of inappropriate behavior by Witters, but decided to do little or nothing to stop them.
It wasn’t until recently that they learned of the school’s alleged behavior through a local news investigation, prompting their lawsuit.
Retired Moraga Middle School Principal Bill Walters, retired Assistant Principal Paul Simonin and retired Superintendent John Cooley are the district employees accused by the women of assisting in the abuse.
“District administrators, officials and employees chose to protect their own jobs and reputations rather than protect young girls from a predator,” read the claims obtained by the Contra Costa Times.
Lawsuit: Kristen Cunnane filed similar lawsuits against the Moraga School District this year, saying the school’s “relaxed environment” allowed the abuse.
‘After Witters committed suicide, (the) Moraga School District undertook a campaign to conceal and cover up its knowledge of past complaints made against Witters.’
The lawsuit is not the first to be filed against the school accusing them and the teacher of sexual abuse.
Kristen Cunnane, now 30, was the first to file a lawsuit alleging abuse by Witters.
Former swimming coach Cunnane said “a relaxed environment” provided by the school allowed for a harmful environment.
Cunnane’s claim was denied in August and his suit for unspecified damages was filed in September.
“We’re not talking about a butt slap or a shoulder massage,” the woman’s attorney, David Ring, told the newspaper. ‘We are talking about extremely serious sexual abuse.
‘His reaction… ranged between shock, dismay and anger. They could not believe it. His mentality has always been that Witters did this to us…and he tried to address that problem.
“So when they found out all the other complaints the district received, it was a big setback for them because they realized that should never have happened to them because the guy shouldn’t have been teaching at the school.”